EASTPORT, Maine — The U.S. Coast Guard said Wednesday that it hopes to have a tidal power generator in the water by the end of summer to provide electricity to Station Eastport.
Sector Northern New England, in partnership with the Coast Guard Research and Development Center in New London, Conn., plans to test a tidal generator off Station East-port, the Coast Guard said on its Web site.
The Coast Guard made the announcement on Wednesday — Earth Day.
The Station Eastport facility is located on the breakwater in downtown Eastport.
“Once complete, the station would be the first federal facility in the continental U.S. to use tidal power,” the Coast Guard said.
The project carries a $100,000 price tag and could serve as a prototype for other Coast Guard facilities in Alaska and Washington.
Tidal generators use moving water to power turbines to generate electricity, similar to the way wind-mills use moving air. Given Washington County’s 22-foot tides and 6-knot currents, it makes sense to provide a secondary power source at the facility, officials added.
“With 22 Coast Guard units guarding an area spanning over 5,000 miles of coastline, Sector Northern New England strives to be good stewards of the environment and the taxpayers’ money as we serve the public every day,” Capt. James McPherson, commander of Sector Northern New England, said during the ceremony. “As protectors of the environment, we feel a special responsibility to pursue renew-able energy sources to help decrease our dependency on fossil fuels seeking to keep the coast clean and beautiful.”
City officials were pleased by the announcement.
“Working with a variety of businesses such as ORPC [Ocean Renewal Power Co.] and other governmental agencies including the Coast Guard, at the city and port we have striven to be part of the lead into this exciting economic and environmental opportunity for the area,” City Manager George “Bud” Finch said in a statement issued Wednesday. “We are pleased that this work has been noted and will work diligently with all involved to develop and grow the industry and energy opportunities.”
Last year, Portland-based Ocean Renewal Power Co. completed a test of a prototype turbine-generator unit in Western Passage near East-port with favorable results.
Eastport Port Authority officials said Wednesday that they plan to work with the U.S. Coast Guard on this project.
“We couldn’t be any more pleased,” Port Authority director Chris Gardner said in a telephone interview. “We have been dealing with the Coast Guard over the past several months looking at this issue, and we would be a partner in this as they intend to use part of the port infrastructure around the breakwater facility to help this come to fruition.”
Eastport is on the map for renew-able tidal energy, Gardner said.
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins on Wednesday said it was fitting that on Earth Day “the U.S. Coast Guard is affirming its commitment to alternative energy. Maine stands to be a leader in production and use of clean, renewable energy, in particular from what I like to call the three ‘W’s’, wind, water and wood,” she said in a statement.
The Coast Guard already has a wind turbine in Southwest Harbor and plans another for the station at South Portland, Collins said.
“Additionally, they are looking into future turbines for housing units. These creative approaches to energy are what we need on a national scale to achieve American energy independence,” she said.
In addition to today’s announcement, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is expected to announce plans to review another tidal energy project proposed for Cobscook Bay by Tidewalker Associates, Finch said.
Half Moon Cove Tidal Energy Project is expected to be reviewed through public meetings in mid to late June, Finch said.
“At this time all actions on this particular plan are in a tentative state, but show how the dreams of harnessing the tides of the bay are still alive after nearly one hundred years,” Finch said.
The Associated Press
contributed to this story.