ORPC makes effort to keep Maine tidal project afloat

TidGen unit ahead of installation at Cobscook Bay, Maine (Photo: ORPC)

Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) has applied to Maine regulators for the amendment of a contract with Emera Maine in an effort to save the 20-year power purchase agreement.

ORPC’s subsidiary, ORPC Maine, has made a request to the State of Maine Public Utilities Commission to allow ORPC’s tidal generator to be offline for 90 months, instead of 48, initially agreed with Emera Maine under a power purchase agreement.

The 20-year power purchase contract, agreed between ORPC and Emera Maine, was approved by the Commission on December 21, 2012.

The US-based tidal energy developer was to provide power from its TidGen turbine generator unit, installed in Cobscook Bay, Maine, which operated successfully until April 21, 2013, when the device experienced salt-water infiltration, which caused the power system to cease operations.

ORPC retrieved the TidGen unit later in 2013, but failed to fix the device due to issues with suppliers as there were no commercially available generators required for the TidGen device, which meant the replacement generator needed to be specifically manufactured for the device.

After several failed attempts to obtain the new generator, ORPC hired Rolls-Royce Marine to build the generator, for which the factory acceptance tests are scheduled for early or mid-2017.

However, since the current agreement with Emera Maine expires on April 21 this year, and ORPC will not be able to resume the delivery of energy until mid-2019, exceeding the agreed 48 months period, the company has asked for the amendment of the original contract.

In the document filed with Maine’s regulator, ORPC said that Emera Maine does not object to the amendment and will execute the it should it be approved by the Commission.

The response from the Commission is expected before April 21, 2017.

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