Environmental report to FERC shows no adverse effects from Maine tidal energy project

Ocean Renewable Power Co. submitted its first annual environmental monitoring report to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in March showing no adverse effects from installation and operation of the 300-kW Cobscook Bay Tidal Energy project in Maine.

FERC issued a hydrokinetic pilot project license to Cobscook Bay (No. 12711) in February 2012. It became the first commercial marine tidal project to go on line in North America in September 2012.

The report describes environmental monitoring conducted during the first phase of the Cobscook Bay project including construction, installation, and operational activities of the project’s TidGen Power System. Results indicated no observed adverse interaction with the marine environment.

FERC required the licensee to develop an adaptive management plan for evaluation of environmental monitoring data and making informed decisions to modify monitoring as necessary. Federal and state resource agencies joined ORPC to form an adaptive management team to oversee the plan.

“This first year operating the TidGen Power System has provided a great learning experience during which we’ve developed best management practices, which we will apply to this and future projects,” ORPC President Chris Sauer said. “We are incredibly grateful to the resource agency members of our adaptive management team for their guidance and collaboration in helping to make our environmental monitoring efforts and adaptive management plan a success.”

The report listed results of monitoring for acoustics, benthics and biofouling, fisheries and marine life interaction, hydraulics, marine mammals, and birds.

ORPC Maine, an Ocean Renewable Power Co. LLC subsidiary, is developing Cobscook Bay Tidal Energy. The company has been engineering and field testing its turbines in waters off Eastport since 2004. It plans to install five units on the ocean floor in a 61-acre area between Goose Island and Grove Point, eventually increasing the project to 4 MW.

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