Financing, necessary infrastructure for zero emission commercial boats


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In summary

I urge the California authorities to make the zero emission transition economically viable for commercial boat owners.

By Maggie McDonogh, Special at CalMatters

Captain Maggie is the owner and operator of Angel Island Ferry, a small, certified family business owned by a fifth generation woman that has operated the route in San Francisco Bay between Tiburon and Angel Island State Park for several decades.

Recently, the Sportfishing Association of California submitted 20,000 signatures expressing its opposition to the Proposed Commercial Port Pleasure Craft Regulations by the California Air Resources Board, which will be put to a vote on Nov. 19.

These 20,000 signatures indicate that small Californian operators do not feel they are being heard and that they are being asked to make changes that are not tenable. With one of California’s 16 short-term ferry operators slated to be zero emissions by January 1, 2026, the burden I and my family-operated ferry face is even greater under the regulations. offered on commercial harbor boats.

Rather than oppose the regulations, I’m working with California-based Green Yachts to convert the Angel Island Ferry electrically powered and deliver a zero emissions experience to the 80,000 passengers we serve each year at Angel Island State Park.

Going to zero emissions is a monumental undertaking with many technical challenges including safe battery systems with a separate ventilation system, modification of our management and fire suppression systems, design of a charging system at high speed and working with PG&E to get high voltage power from the street to the end of our quay.

Even more difficult than the technical challenges is the financial feasibility of this project for boat operators like me. I am asked to pay $ 2.8 million of which $ 2 million will be reimbursed after the completion of the project by a Carl Moyer scholarship. It is unrealistic to impose a financial burden of this magnitude on small businesses and my small business, with less than $ 1 million in revenue, cannot bear $ 800,000 in debt after the project is completed.

Personally, I cannot move forward until adequate funding and project funding is in place. I hope Governor Gavin Newsom and the Air Resources Board will work with us to overcome the very real financial challenges we face in order to make it easier for people like me or sport fishing boats to reduce our emissions.

I believe the Air Resources Board staff thought of the regulations from the point of view of how much of our emissions to reduce, and not from the point of view of how easily and efficiently commercial vessel operators will achieve those reductions in emissions. ’emissions.

Here are my requests to the California Air Resources Board:

First, offer interest-free loans to small California businesses that undertake zero-emission projects when a Moyer grant is awarded. Many of the sport fishing and short-term ferry operators are small family businesses, run by women or belonging to minorities who cannot find funding for these large projects.

Second, increase funding for zero-emission maritime projects specifically for land-based recharging infrastructure. By facilitating zero-emission electric / hydrogen recharges over diesel, California will gain tremendously as electric / hydrogen solutions reduce emissions from climate change.

Third, technology is changing rapidly. For those of us embracing green technology, California should create a fund to adopt new battery technology, new emissions controls, and new green hydrogen storage so that early adopters aren’t penalized for having were the first and continue to innovate as new technologies become available.

If only we, 16 short-term ferry operators, go zero emissions, this will not be enough to affect climate change. It must be an industry-wide effort that is technically and financially feasible for small and large operators alike.

I urge the governor and the California Air Resources Board to use this regulatory moment to make it economically viable for boat owners to go zero emissions. Make it a bigger effort to reduce climate change over the next decade than 16 ferries in the short term. Please listen to our concerns, address them with us and then we can fight climate change together.

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