Maine, Canadian leaders push for tidal power

Posted July 12, 2010, at 9:50 p.m.

The leaders of Maine and Nova Scotia have signed an agreement pledging closer collaboration on research and development of tidal energy as well as offshore wind energy.

Gov. John Baldacci and Premier Darrell Dexter signed the memorandum of understanding Monday during a meeting of New England governors and Eastern Canadian premiers in Massachusetts.

Also at Monday’s meeting, Baldacci signed an agreement with New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham to create a joint cultural initiative to explore cross-border projects and encourage additional trade opportunities.

The initiative also aims to simplify cross-border processes for artists, cultural institutions and “creative businesses,” and identify new or expanded tourism opportunities.

Energy security, energy efficiency and development of renewable energy sources were a major focus of the discussions at the Monday meeting.

Under the energy agreement, Maine and Nova Scotia will “investigate opportunities and areas within which to cooperate on furthering offshore wind and tidal energy technology and application.”

The two governments also hope to bring together researchers, policymakers and potential energy developers. As part of that effort, Maine and Nova Scotia will host a Tidal Energy Symposium in conjunction with next year’s conference of New England governors and Eastern Canadian premiers in Nova Scotia.

“Maine is forging a path toward clean, renewable, home-grown energy development which will keep hard-earned dollars here at home and provide good paying jobs, all while preserving our valuable natural resources,” Baldacci said in a statement. “Premier Dexter shares my commitment to work regionally to address these criti-cal issues, and I’m pleased that we are forging this partnership to explore the opportunities before us.”

Much of the recent focus on renewable energy in the Gulf of Maine has been on offshore wind. The region is considered to have some of the best offshore wind resources on the planet, but the technology to capture that wind in the deep, stormy waters of the gulf is still in development.

But the Gulf of Maine and, in particular, the Bay of Fundy have the highest tidal ranges in the world, making it a prime location for industrial tidal energy projects.

As with offshore wind power, there is significant research taking place in both countries — including a pilot project deployed near Eastport — on technologies that harness the power of the tides with minimal impacts on marine life, fisheries and communities.

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