Maine Project Takes Historic Step Forward in U.S. Tidal Energy Deployment

May 09, 2012

A pilot project that will generate electricity from Maine's ocean tides could be a game-changer for America's tidal energy industry at-large.

At the direction of the Maine Public Utilities Commission, three of the state's electricity distributors will purchase electricity generated by Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC)—the company leading the Maine pilot project. Once finalized, the contracts will be in place for 20 years, making them the first long-term tidal energy power purchase agreements in the United States. The implications of these agreements are far-reaching, helping to advance the commercialization of tidal energy technologies. The project, which has brought more than $14 million into Maine's economy and has created or helped retain more than 100 jobs, is supported by $10 million in funding from the Energy Department.

For the pilot phase of the project, ORPC will deploy cross flow turbine devices in Cobscook Bay, at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy. These devices are designed to generate electricity over a range of water currents, capturing energy on both ebb and flood tides without the need for repositioning. To read the complete story, see the DOE Energy Blog.