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4/22/2010 1:37:00 PM
Feasibility Study of Tidal Energy Project Proposed to FERC-

Editor's Note
This letter is from Rich Simon of Newcastle.

Simon is the owner of The Power Company, Inc. of Washington, Maine, and a partner in Maine Energy Performance Solutions, a company that does energy retrofits and solar installations. He has filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) proposing to study the feasibility of generating electricity through a hydrokinetic tidal energy project on the Damariscotta River. The proposed project, according to FERC's summary, "would consist of: (1) Approximately 10-20 Encurrent hydrokinetic generator units with a total installed capacity of 250 kilowatts; (2) a new 100- to 500-foot-long, 220-volt transmission line; and (3) appurtenant facilities. The project would have an estimated annual generation of 657 megawatt-hours."

For more information on the application: http://govpulse.us/entries/2010/03/16/2010-5645/the-power-company-inc-notice-of-preliminary-permit-application-accepted-for-filing-and-soliciting-co

The Power Company, Inc. of Washington, Maine, has applied for a preliminary permit with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a project to generate electricity through tides on the Damariscotta River. We owe it to local residents and others to clear up any misunderstanding about who we are, what we hope to do, and how we intend to work in the best interests of the local community.

Research and development for tidal energy is still in its early stages. Starting early last year I had been noticing tidal energy projects being proposed in Maine, and throughout the world. I've been intrigued by this new emerging industry. I formed a company called The Power Company. I reached out to industry leaders, universities, government agencies and individuals who were involved in tidal energy research. Through that experience, and the support I received, I felt I had gained enough of a foundation to conceptualize a project of my own.

For any project that will generate electricity, a federal permit must be granted. The first step is to apply for a preliminary permit. This allows for a study of the potential project. This permit is good for three years. The study looks at things like water speeds and volumes, environmental studies, mooring and docking methods, and public opinion on the project. During the study period, FERC (the federal agency) is kept informed by progress reports. After this study is completed to FERC's satisfaction, the applicant can then choose to apply for a full operational permit. The results of the study set the framework for the actual project. Stringent criteria must be met to obtain a full production permit.

I have given a lot of thought as to the best way to approach a project of this sort. Both the federal and state government have been talking a lot about "energy independence" and have set very ambitious goals. Government agencies such as the Department of Energy are encouraging research into new forms of clean, renewable power. The state of Maine has enacted Energy for Maine's Future into law. One part of that legislation is "The Community Energy Bill." That bill encourages small-scale energy projects. I think this project could be a step toward fulfilling the goals of that bill. A project like this seems similar to when towns set up systems to meet their water and sewage needs.



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