Swell Potential for Maine Ocean Energy

In a one-year study of Maine’s tidal power potential, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) concluded that it provides an excellent resource that could produce electricity at costs competitive with wind and natural gas, and less expensive than solar and so-called “clean coal.” And, like wind and solar, capturing energy from the tides emits no greenhouse gases.

“Maine has a world-class tidal resource that will produce electricity at a cost of 4.2 to 6.5 cents per kilowatt-hour,” said Roger Bedard, the EPRI study project leader. “This resource is better than many we studied and will produce lower cost electricity as a result.” The Governor’s Energy Bill, which received strong bipartisan support, creates a goal of 10% new renewable power generation resources in Maine by 2017. Supported by funding from the Maine Technology Institute, EPRI analyzed the technological and economic feasibility of the tidal resources in seven states and provinces, including Maine, Massachusetts, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. In Maine, the study focused on Western Passage in Quoddy Bay. The study characterized eight different tidal in-stream energy conversion devices. Tidal energy turbines harness the energy of tides without the need for dams or impoundments. Some are compared to “upside-down wind turbines.” Preliminary tests of the impact of these turbines on fish in the United States and United Kingdom show no adverse impacts, according to EPRI. In addition to the Maine Technology Institute, the Department of Marine Resources, the State Energy Program division of the Public Utilities Commission and the Governor’s Office of Energy Independence & Security participated in the study. “We are excited about the results of this study,” said Beth Nagusky, Director of the Office of Energy Independence. “Harnessing the energy from Maine’s big tides in an environmentally friendly manner will reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels and will create jobs in the state.” Two preliminary permits have been filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission while potential developers study the tidal resource in the Penobscot and Kennebec Rivers. Interest in the tidal energy resource in the Cutler area has also been expressed.
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