State and federal officials joined Port of Tacoma and Totem Ocean Trailer Express, Inc., officials today to flip the switch on the Pacific Northwest’s first cargo ship shore power.

Sparked by an EPA grant worth nearly $1.5 million, two TOTE cargo ships will now plug into electrical power and shut down diesel engines while docked during weekly calls at their Tacoma terminal.

The $2.7 million shore power project will reduce diesel and greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90 percent during TOTE’s 100 ship calls each year in Tacoma. That equals about 1.9 tons of diesel particulates and 1,360 tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year.

Officials on hand to plug in the first ship included Gov. Chris Gregoire's Chief of Staff Jay Manning and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 10 Administrator Dennis McLerran.

“Not only does this shore power plug installation help us clean the air, this project has created dozens of living-wage jobs at a time when we need them the most,” Gregoire said in a statement. “This is the kind of investment we need to emerge from this recession ready for the 21st century economy – one with a healthy environment and a good supply of clean energy jobs.”

TOTE, a private shipping company that serves the Alaska trade, contributed about $1.2 million to retrofit the two ships to accommodate shore power connections and add some of the terminal infrastructure.

The Port of Tacoma provided environmental permitting, grant administration and project management.

“We appreciate the leadership and initiative of partners like TOTE and EPA in making our community a cleaner, safer place to live and work,” said Port Commission President Don Johnson.

The EPA grant was provided under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act
(ARRA) of 2009 National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program.

“By plugging in, TOTE and the Port of Tacoma are using clean Northwest energy instead of fossil fuels,” said McLerran, EPA Regional Administrator. “This project has three major benefits: It reduces greenhouse gas emissions, creates healthier air and spurs job growth.”

In addition to retrofitting two TOTE ships with certified ship-side technology, this project installed a shore-side connection system and power at the Port’s TOTE terminal.

Construction sustained an estimated 50 manufacturing and local installation jobs.

This project supports the groundbreaking Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy, adopted in early 2008 by the Port and its regional partners, the ports of Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., to meet jointly established short- and long-term clean air goals for ships, cargo-handling equipment, rail, trucks and harbor craft. About half the ships that call frequently at the Port already meet the 2010 clean-air goal for ships by using cleaner-burning distillate fuel at berth. TOTE ships, which call twice a week in Tacoma, will boost that number to 64 percent by plugging into the shore power system.

Known as Orca-class vessels, the ships feature state-of-the-art redundant propulsion and steering systems that exceed state and federal environmental regulations, earning TOTE numerous awards in recognition of outstanding environmental achievement.

“Almost 35 years to the day since TOTE first introduced service from Puget Sound to Alaska, we are delighted today to again provide leadership in helping to establish this new benchmark for environmentally responsible cargo movement.” said TOTE President John Parrott. “Shore power is simply the next step in TOTE’s ongoing commitment to innovations which benefit our customers … and the communities in which we live.”

About the Port of Tacoma
The Port of Tacoma is an economic engine for South Puget Sound, with more than 43,000 family-wage jobs in Pierce County and 113,000 jobs across Washington state connected to Port activities. A major gateway to Asia and Alaska, the Port of Tacoma is among the largest container ports in North America. The Port is also a major center for bulk, breakbulk and project/heavy-lift cargoes, as well as automobiles and trucks.

About Totem Ocean Trailer Express, Inc.
Totem Ocean Trailer Express, Inc. (TOTE) is a privately-owned shipping company operating roll-on/roll-off cargo vessels between the ports of Tacoma, Wash., and Anchorage, Alaska, since 1975. Recent environmental awards won by TOTE include: 2010 World Trade Center-Tacoma’s Globe Award for Community Vitality; 2008 Washington Recycling Association Recycler of the Year Award; 2007 Tahoma Environmental Business Award; 2006 Washington Governor’s Award for Pollution Prevention and Sustainability. For more information on TOTE, please visit

About the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
The mission of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is to protect human health and safeguard the natural environment—air, water and land. EPA’s Region 10 office works to protect public health and the environment in the northwestern United States (Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington). EPA Region 10 also works with 267 federally recognized tribes in the Pacific Northwest. For more information about EPA, please visit