Ocean Renewable Power Company recently installed a small tidal power generator in Cobscook Bay, Maine, which they say is the largest tidal power plant ever installed in U.S. waters. A generator uses the power from turbines hanging from a barge to charge large battery packs, which are ferried daily by skiff to the Coast Guard station in Eastport. The battery packs provide almost 20 kilowatt-hours of power daily, about half of the energy needs of the 41-foot search and rescue boat docked there.
Admittedly, it is a small amount of power; it would take 25 such turbines to equal the rated capacity of just one of the wind turbines recently installed on the nearby island of Vinalhaven. The project cost $4 million, including more than a million dollars of federal and state support. Ocean Renewable Power Company is using the data it is gathering to fine-tune a larger installation in Cobscook Bay, planned for 2011. That system, according to the company, should generate enough electricity to power 50 or 60 homes.