By Erin Weaver
A construction worker readies a turbine for placement in ORPC's tidal energy generator in Eastport, Maine.
A project in Eastport, Maine, will soon become the first commercial tidal power plant in the U.S. Three of the state’s electric utilities have 20-year contracts with the Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) to purchase electricity generated by the Cobscook Bay project at an inlet of the Bay of Fundy.
ORPC will operate five cross-flow turbines on the floor of Cobscook Bay, where they will generate energy from both ebb and flood tides. The devices will operate safely below passing ships, and according to ORPC, tests indicate that marine life should have no safety issues with their blunt, slow-moving blades. The first turbine will soon begin operation; four additional turbines will be installed over the following year, at which point the project should power up to 100 area homes. ORPC then hopes to expand to nearby locations for an overall capacity of 4 MW powering more than 1,000 homes and businesses.
The U.S. Department of Energy invested $10 million in the project, which has created at least 50 jobs for local workers and manufacturing work around New England: the turbines were made in Rhode Island and the generator in Massachusetts.
September 1, 2012
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