December 14, 2017
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Portland firm wins federal funds for river power generator

By Darren Fishell, BDN Staff
Updated:
BDN File | BDN
BDN File | BDN
Chris Sauer, president and CEO of Ocean Renewable Power Co., speaks at the dedication ceremony of the Cobscook Bay Tidal Power Project in Eastport, July 24, 2012.

PORTLAND, Maine — The Portland-based company that piloted a tidal power generator in Cobscook Bay announced its smaller-scale river generator project has won another $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Ocean Renewable Power Co. announced the additional grant Monday, after its river power generation project received about $400,000 for an initial phase of testing near the remote Alaskan village of Igiugig.

“We are moving forward to replicate our collaboration in Igiugig in other remote communities in Alaska, Canada and worldwide,” Chris Sauer, the company’s president and CEO, said in a news release.

The company got another $2.25 million DOE grant in November to build a system for deploying, anchoring and retrieving its tidal and river power generation units.

High costs of deployment and reliability of power generation prompted the company to take the Cobscook Bay turbine out of the water, but Sauer said in a previous interview that the retrieval and deployment system could reduce the associated costs and get the tidal turbine back in the water for testing in 2017.

If all goes well, the company’s turbine will be a viable permanent power source in 2018, he said.

For its river project, the village of Igiugig has relied on diesel generators for power, at a cost of about 80 cents per kilowatt hour, or more than 10 times the current rate for grid-connected electricity customers in Maine.

ORPC deployed the river generation unit in the nearby Kvichak River for testing in 2014. It plugged into the local grid in 2015. On Monday, the company said that connection reduced the village’s diesel fuel consumption by one-third.

The company added it’s collected environmental impact data and hasn’t yet noted any harm to the river habitat.

BDN writer Johanna Billings contributed to this report.

 


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