In recent months, the State of Maine has sought the spotlight in the offshore renewable energy space. This entry summarizes three major events that have marked the state's move toward a leadership role.

Maine Signs MOU with Nova Scotia

On July 12, 2010, Governor John E. Baldacci signed a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) with Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter to work cooperatively on renewable ocean energy development. Many similar memoranda have been signed between states and federal agencies in the United States, but this is the first that reaches beyond the Nation’s borders. The MOU states that the two governments will work together to advance tidal and offshore wind development efforts by furthering academic research in the area and establishing a formal council to “work together to shape the region’s leadership position in this important new area of renewable energy development.” Although largely a “plan to start planning,” the MOU demonstrates the State of Maine’s desire to be on the leading edge of offshore energy policy and development.

ORPC Reports Successful Test of Commercial-Sized Underwater Turbine

On August 18, 2010, Ocean Renewable Power Company (“ORPC”) reported that its Beta Power System has successfully generated grid-compatible power from tidal currents. The 60 kW Turbine Generator Unit met or exceeded ORPC’s expectations for testing at a range of current velocities. The company will use the data gathered to complete the design of its 150 kW TidGen Power System, which is scheduled for installation in Eastport, Maine in late 2011, and will interconnect to the New England grid through the Bangor Hydro Electric Company system. The TidGen Power System will generate enough electricity to power 50-75 homes.

The full text of ORPC's press release can be found here.

Maine PUC Seeks Proposals for Offshore Wind & Tidal Energy

Following on the heels of ORPC’s announcement, the Maine Public Utilities Commission (“PUC”) announced on September 1, 2010, that it is seeking proposals for long-term (20-year) contracts to supply energy and renewable energy credits from one or more offshore wind energy pilot projects or tidal energy demonstration projects. The PUC is looking for a wind developer with experience relevant to the construction and operation of floating wind turbines and has the potential to construct a deep-water (300 feet or more) offshore wind energy project of at least 100 MW in the future. Any proposed tidal energy demonstration project must have a total installed generating capacity of 5 MW or less.

Proposals will be due on or before May 1, 2011. The full text of the request for proposals ("RFP") can be found here.