How Cruise Ships Bring 1,200 Tons of Toxic Fumes to Brooklyn a Year

The city’s Economic Development Corporation, which runs the cruise terminals, said at the time that the Brooklyn plug-in system would save $99 million in health care costs over 15 years.

But the story since then, Mr. Armstrong said, has been “disheartening.”

The fledgling shore-power system, which has yet to expand beyond the Red Hook terminal, has faced various obstacles, according to the development corporation. Mundane issues like wind or ship maintenance can cancel the connection. A few times, according to Carnival, shore power was simply not available. (A spokesman for Con Edison, the local electrical utility, said that there were problems with the way the system was built; the utility has suggested a redesign to add a power backup.)

Plugging in is also expensive: By one estimate, using shore power in Brooklyn exclusively would cost Carnival $1 million more a year than burning fuel at port.

To help encourage cruise lines to plug in while docked, the city and the New York State Power Authority agreed to help pay half of Carnival’s electric bill as long as the company agreed to retrofit its ships, at a cost of up to $4 million, to plug in.

Carnival said it was working with the city to increase the frequency with which its ships plug in.

“There is a coordinated effort in place,” Mr. Frizzell said in an email, “to enhance the shore power system so it can work reliably.”

Mr. Armstrong and some of his Red Hook neighbors are highly skeptical.

For years, he said, the development corporation would claim that the cruise ships were plugging in regularly. They were not.

“I could see from my deck they were spewing smoke,” Mr. Armstrong said. “I would go down and take the ferry around, and see the plugs dangling in the wind.”