LUBEC, Maine — For weeks, Ocean Renewable Power Co. has been working with local officials and the Maine Marine Patrol to find a new location for its tidal power turbine so that the equipment would not negatively affect local fishermen.
Rumors were rampant this week that the 60-kilowatt turbine was supposed to have been removed by Sept. 1 and that it would interfere with the coming sea urchin season.
On Tuesday, Town Administrator John Sutherland and ORPC Project Manager John Ferland both confirmed that the date for removal is Sept. 30, although the mooring should be removed as early as next week.
“We are showing our respect for the fishing industry,” Ferland said. “We are not taking any of their concerns lightly, and things are going very well.”
Ferland said a new location has been found for the turbines off Seward Neck, where it will not get in the way of divers or draggers.
“This is the same location that the Cobscook Bay Fishermen’s Association identified two years ago as a good place for the turbine to be,” Ferland said.
Ferland explained that the turbine’s location is permitted through the Army Corps of Engineers and the town of Lubec. That permit expires Sept. 30.
“But we have a need to continue the work,” Ferland said. “We have requested a permit extension but will be moving the mooring and turbine.”
Ferland said the process of finding a new site and working with Lubec officials has been very amicable.
Sutherland said the company and town officials have been working together for weeks. He said sea urchin season begins Oct. 1.
ORPC, headquartered in Portland but with a satellite office in Eastport, is a step ahead of dozens of companies positioning for a lead in tidal power technology. ORPC’s turbine is already producing electricity — the only company to actually do so this year.
“Things are going very, very well,” Ferland said Tuesday.
ORPC is looking to make Maine a national leader in tidal power and initial tests of the turbine hold such promise that the number of turbines in the pilot project will expand to generate enough electricity to power 1,500 homes, Ferland said. ORPC plans to install a 150-kilowatt system next year in the waters off Eastport, to be connected to the Bangor Hydro-Electric grid. Long-term plans are to develop 250 megawatts of power, enough to power more than 90,000 homes.
More information about ORPC’s project can be found at www.oceanrenewablepower.com.