On September 13 of this year, a private company named Ocean Renewable Power Company in collaboration with the Maine Public Utilities Commission, finally flipped the switch on four TideGen submersible turbines in Cobscook Bay, just west of Eastport. It took the company just a few months to install the turbines, but they spent years working through permits, bureaucracy, and red tape…. They are currently only generating 180 kilowatts of electricity at peak—enough to power up to 30 homes. If these turbines perform as expected, ORPC will expand the Eastport turbine generator field to a capacity of 540 kilowatts — powering up to 100 homes in eastern Maine.
Coastal towns and cities around the globe are watching this experiment with great interest. If it proves successful, tidal-power generation — due to its relatively low barriers to entry — could quickly become a major player in the world’s energy mix. Tidal power is attractive. It’s renewable and clean. It’s dead reliable as — come hell or high water — the tides will never stop. And finally, the turbines are underwater, which both shields them from the increasingly powerful storms of climate change and also makes them invisible from land—clearing the Not-In-My-Backyard hurdle that has plagued the wind power industry for decades.