PORTLAND, Maine — The Portland-based Ocean Renewable Power Company’s ongoing efforts to develop underwater tidal generation technology has earned the company the New England Clean Energy Council’s “Emerging Company of the Year” award.
Presented last week in Boston, the award acknowledges ORPC’s ongoing efforts in Washington County’s Cobscook Bay to test and develop submerged turbines that transform into electricity the inherent energy of the powerful currents associated with the Bay of Fundy’s massive tides.
“We are incredibly honored to receive this award from our industry,” said John Ferland, ORPC’s vice-president for project development. “It is an inspiration to our colleagues at ORPC and to our dozens of contractors throughout New England who are making a difference in the clean energy economy on a day-to-day basis. We will share this award with pride with Eastport and Lubec, our community partners in Washington County, Maine.”
The Energy Council’s adulations for the ORPC’s TidGen project noted that it provides the first power from any ocean energy project — including offshore wind, wave and tidal projects — to be delivering energy to an electrical utility grid in the United States.
“The project also has the distinction of being the only ocean energy project not using a dam that delivers power to a utility grid anywhere in the Americas, thus giving the project global significance,” the Council stated in making its award.
It also noted how ORPC’s years of Eastport-based research and development has been a boost to the regional economy.
“Based in Maine, ORPC has employed a total of 93 vendors, contractors and consultants on the project, with 80 percent of those based in New England,” the Council said.
After being underwater since mid-September and transmitting electricity from a 60-acre Cobscook Bay test site to an on-shore Bangor Hydro substation, ORPC’s turbine array was pulled from the water late last month for an onshore quarterly inspection. Such inspections are required under the terms of a $10 million Department of Energy federal grant. The unit remains in dry dock at the Eastport Boat School pier.
“The TidGen device is still out of the water, and we expect to have it back in and operating by the end of next week,” Susy Kist, an ORPC spokesperson, said Monday.
Kist said there have been “no surprises” during the unit’s first scheduled maintenance inspection.
Deployment of the 80,000-pound turbine assembly followed millions of dollars of investment over eight years of design, fabrication and testing. ORPC research and development plans include submerging two similar turbine arrays some time next year. The company intends to place 24 underwater turbines in the Western Passage of the Bay of Fundy in 2014.