ORPC applies for FERC pilot license for 300-kW Cobscook Bay Tidal

ORPC Maine, an Ocean Renewable Power Co. LLC subsidiary, has filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a pilot hydrokinetic project license for the 300-kW Cobscook Bay Tidal Energy project in Cobscook Bay off Eastport, Maine.

ORPC plans to build, install, operate, and monitor a commercial-scale array of five grid-connected TidGen tidal power generators on the sea floor in two phases over three years. The Department of Energy awarded $10 million to the project in 2010 to accelerate the technological and commercial readiness of emerging marine and hydrokinetic technologies.

ORPC originally obtained FERC preliminary permits to study the proposed 23.7-MW Cobscook Bay OCGen Power (No. 12711) and 18.96-MW Western Passage OCGen Power (No. 12680) tidal power projects. In 2009, it filed a draft pilot license application for the ORPC Eastport Tidal Energy project (No. 12680) that encompassed the areas covered by the preliminary permits.

In its latest filing, Sept. 1, ORPC submitted a final pilot license application that is changed significantly from the ORPC Eastport draft as a result of consultation with FERC staff. The developer performed Beta Power System testing at Cobscook Bay in 2010.

The current application proposes the project in Cobscook Bay rather than both Cobscook Bay and Western Passage. It also proposes use of sea floor-mounted TidGen generators intended for depths of as much as 150 feet, rather that buoyant OCGen modules fixed above the sea floor, in the draft application.

ORPC proposes installing a single generating unit in the first phase of development. After a year of testing and operation, another four units would be installed for the duration of the eight-year license.

While each TidGen unit would have a maximum design capacity of 180 kW, they would operate at a rated capacity of 60 kW during the pilot project. All five units would have rated capacity of 300 kW and would generate an annual average of 1.2 million to 1.3 million kWh, which would be delivered by underwater cable to an onshore station and connected to the Bangor Hydro Electric Co. grid.

ORPC estimated the entire project would cost $16.65 million, with the pilot license application costing $2.5 million, equipment and installation costing $11.5 million, operation and maintenance costing $2.4 million, and removal and restoration of the project at the end of the pilot license costing $250,000.

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