PORTLAND, Maine 5/2/12 (PennWell) -- The Maine Public Utilities Commission has approved the primary contract terms of a power purchase agreement with tidal energy producer Ocean Renewable Power Company.
PUC's order directs Maine's three investor-owned utilities -- Bangor Hydro, CMP and Maine Public Service -- to negotiate 20-year power purchase agreements with ORPC and the 4 MW of output its tidal project will generate.
ORPC says it expects to complete the PPAs in the next several weeks, making them the first such long-term agreements of their kind in the U.S.
"Today is a major milestone in the 80-year effort to commercially harness the vast power of the tides," says Maine Senate President Kevin Raye. "For longer than most of us have been alive, it has been a dream deferred. Now that dream will be fully realized.
The PPAs' enabling legislation was established in April 2010, when the 124th Maine Legislature unanimously passed the "Recommendations of the Governor's Ocean Energy Task Force," which brought the development of tidal energies to Maine's forefront.
The project was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in February 2012, paving the way for installation of the Maine Tidal Energy Project in Cobscook Bay near Eastport. OPRC says it hopes to have its TidGen power system installed by late summer, with delivery of power as per the PPAs beginning in October.
The company will continue installing TidGen units at several other sites, eventually reaching a total capacity of 4 MW.