April 18, 2024 1:52 pm

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Inslee visits Port of Everett, discusses electrifying WA’s maritime industry

EVERETT—Washington State Governor Jay Inslee visited the Port of Everett’s Pier 3, Wednesday, January 17, where officials are electrifying key infrastructure to reduce carbon pollution and improve overall air quality at the working waterfront.

The port recently received a $5 million investment from the Climate Commitment Act funds to electrify its Pier 3 to serve all-electric tugs and barges. According to Port of Everett CEO, Lisa Lefeber, these upgrades should lead to carbon reductions of at least 640 tons per year by eliminating the use of diesel generators while also making infrastructure improvements which would enhance the resiliency of the Port.

Port Everett electrifying
Governor Jay Inslee (left) with Port of Everett CEO Lisa Lefeber discussing infrastructure improvements at the Port of Everett during his visit on January 17, 2024. Lynnwood Times | Kienan Briscoe.

“We’re building a clean energy economy one connection at a time, and this is a big deal,” said Gov. Inslee Wednesday. “To electrify the motors that run these dry docks will remove 640 tons of carbon dioxide, that carbon dioxide pollution is hurting our families and hurting our state. It’s associated with climate change and causes fires, when we burn diesel, it pollutes our kids’ lungs and causes asthma, but the Port of Everett is doing something about it by electrifying these systems and getting ready for the future when we have electric ships as well.”

Inslee’s office says port decarbonization is critical to competitiveness and manufacturers are insisting on cleaner supply chains and that lends an advantage to cleaner ports. Officials are also currently researching decarbonizing the maritime industry to use hydrogen and fuel cell technology, which Inslee said would also help generate jobs.

Port Everett electrifying
Pier 3 at the Port of Everett where officials are electrifying key infrastructure to reduce carbon pollution. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.

“When we do this [decarbonization] technology we lead the world and it’s happening right here in Washington State,” said Inslee. “I am thrilled to see this investment. The Climate Commitment Act is pivotal at simultaneously reducing pollution and growing jobs.”

The Secretary of State’s Office delivered official notification to the Washington State Legislature on January 16 that signature verification was completed and certified for Initiative 2117 (I-2117)—an initiative that if enacted into law this session or passed by voters in November would prohibit carbon tax credit trading, also known as “cap-and-invest,” which would gut Washington’s Climate Commitment Act, funds that are paying for projects like those at the Port of Everett.

Inslee told the Lynnwood Times that Washington is a state that moves forward, not backwards, and he is confident that the legislature will not pass I-2117.

“Who wants to go backwards in the state of Washington,” Inslee said. “We should be going forward to give our kids cleaner air not backwards; and this initiative would totally eliminate our protection to limit that amount of pollution. Secondly, it would also totally eliminate over a billion dollars that is helping Washingtonians grow our economy making electric buses, making air filtration systems so our kids can have cleaner air in their schools, giving people more access to public buses…over 8 million kids had free rides on buses; now their families don’t have to pay for transportation, that’s a pretty sweet deal.”

Inslee added that repealing “cap and invest” would result in a $5 billion reduction in the state’s transportation budget.

“So here we know we need to have more bridges, we need we need more sidewalks, we can’t go backwards…people are choking in traffic already,” Inslee said.

Dock electrification is just one of many recent efforts the Port of Everett Seaport is undergoing to support a greener supply chain for a more sustainable future, says Lefeber. For example, adding the capabilities to support electric tugs which are currently in development in California, all-electric harbor crafts, barges and more that could dock at Pier 3 in the near future.

Port Everett electrifying
Diesel tugboat Brusco at the Port of Everett. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.

Once electric tugs reach completion it could still be some time before Everett sees them though, most likely beginning their operation in San Diego, Los Angeles, then Seattle-Tacoma before reaching Snohomish County.

Within the last decade, the Port has invested more than $150 million in Seaport Modernization which includes stormwater treatment improvements, dock upgrades for larger ships transitioning to shore power, improvements that would account for future sea-level rise, cleaning up legacy contamination from former mill sites, and facility upgrades, to name a few.

The cleanup of former mill sites alone costs approximately $200 million. The Port worked with the Department of Ecology and the Legislature to create a first-ever extended grant agreement to secure the funds to execute the project.

Pier 3, which was constructed in 1973 and remains one of the Port’s oldest piers, has undergone continual upgrades for the last 15 years but is still in need of some dire fortification, Lefeber told the Lynnwood Times. The 50-year-old pier is now deteriorating at the mud line and requires strengthening before it prepares for electrification.

“It doesn’t make any sense to put in electrical infrastructure to an aging facility, so we have to do a modernization project in sync with the electrification,” Lisa Lefeber told the Lynnwood Times. “Electrifying a seaport is not cheap.”

Pier 3 is one of two finger piers at the Port of Everett Seaport, offering ship berths of 650-feet on each side, with a total usable berth length of 1,300 feet. The pier accommodates general, breakbulk and project cargoes, forest products and bulk cement handling.

Port Everett electrifying
Pilings of Peir 3 at the Port of Everett. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.

The facility is extremely busy with recent Naval capabilities and running maintenance for practically all the Washington State ferries yet a recent assessment, led by a Jacobs Engineering dive team, found that 100 out of 170 pilings need to be replaced on the north side alone. The Port plans to do a similar assessment on the south side in the near future and will be seeking Federal funding in the amount of anywhere between $10 to $15 million.

When the pier goes fully electric, the power source would come from a power grid with backup generators if needed. The Port acquired power from the Snohomish PUD for its south terminal which essentially reserved the capacity to begin “greening” its facilities.

The Port also stated that investing in port infrastructure has a direct impact on economic vitality and job growth in the region, by investing in facilities that are attractive to maritime users looking to both find efficient and greener cargo facilities, and by serving industry and manufacturers throughout the region.

As it stands, the Port’s operations support over 40,000 jobs and contributes $433 million to state and local taxes.

Port Everett electrifying
Port of Everett South Terminal. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.

“While the Port’s mission is to grow the economy and create family-wage jobs, we always incorporate sustainable practices and environmental stewardship into all our operations, plans, initiatives and projects,” Port Commission President Glen Bachman said. “By design, the Port of Everett is an economic driver, but we also work hard and take pride in being an environmental leader for our region.”

Last month, in a historic action, the Port of Everett Commission unanimously passed Resolution No. 1220, directing Port staff to submit a proposition to expand the existing boundary of the Port District to the Snohomish County Council for voter consideration. This is the first resolution of its kind in 105 years since the citizens voted to create the Port in 1918.

The measure, slated for the August 2024 primary ballot, will consider enlarging the Port District to all of Snohomish County, excluding City of Edmonds, Port of Edmonds, and Town of Woodway limits, respectively. To be enacted, the proposed boundary expansion for the Port of Everett District must be a contiguous area, passed by commission, approved by the Snohomish County Council, passed by a simple majority of voters, a redistricting of the Port’s governance structure.

The decision falls on the Snohomish County Council next Wednesday, January 24.


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