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In Maine history, two large tidal projects stand out for their sweeping scopes and promise. The latest is now being carried out by Portland, Maine-based Ocean Renewable Power Co. (ORPC) in Cobscook Bay at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy off Eastport and Lubec — the same waters that harbored a decades-long national dream championed by Franklin D. Roosevelt called the Passamaquoddy Tidal Power Project.
Quoddy, as it came to be known, was a proposed series of dams and gates for Cobscook and Passamaquoddy bays to capture the tidal energy from the Bay of Fundy. What the project failed to do was secure ongoing support from Congress, which cut funding in 1936 after the first small dams were constructed. Despite efforts in the 1950s by Sen. Margaret Chase Smith and other supporters, the federal government failed to reinvest to make Quoddy a reality.
In 2010, ORPC successfully completed deployment, testing and sustained operation of its Beta TidGen™ Power System, which incorporated the company’s commercial-scale turbine generator unit (TGU), as well as the Energy Tide 2, ORPC’s world-class research vessel from which the TGU was deployed. Also on site were performance and environmental monitoring systems.
Described as the largest ocean energy device ever installed in U.S. waters, ORPC’s Beta TGU utilized the company’s patented advanced design cross-flow (ADCF) turbines. With the help of a $10 million matching grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, ORPC will install a $21 million project to connect a TidGen™ Power System, consisting of an array of five TidGen™ devices, to the Bangor Hydro Electric grid by mid-2013. Each TidGen™ device has a maximum design capacity of 180 kilowatts, and the first will be installed in March 2012.
By 2015, ORPC expects to be generating more than 3 megawatts of clean, predictable power using multiple devices at its sites in the Eastport-Lubec area.
ORPC will also be deploying its TidGen™ Power System just 50 miles from Eastport on the Canadian side of the Bay of Fundy through its new partnership with Fundy Tidal Inc., of Westport, Nova Scotia. The companies expect to begin producing tidal-generated electricity at Petit Passage in late 2012, according to ORPC.