OREC President Speaks at Tidal Energy Project Dedication in Maine

On July 24, 2012, OREC President Sean O’Neill attended the ORPC Tidal Energy Project Dedication in Eastport, Maine and delivered the following remarks to a crowd of approximately 200.

Good morning. Thank you Chris for your kind introduction and for having me join you all today for this great event.

It was 2005 when ocean renewable energy was re-introduced into the definition of renewable energy as recognized by the federal government.

At that time we saw that the U.S. was falling behind the rest of world in the development of technologies that could harness the power of our oceans.

We started to look at the countries that had been advancing these technologies, in some cases for a decade.

In fact, for the leading countries like Scotland, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and Norway, what we saw were some tremendous similarities in public policy that helped spur the responsible commercialization of tidal and wave power.

The factors that were clearly in common included: consistent funding from federal, regional, state and even local organizations and government bodies for research and development; the existence of open water testing facilities; and a market pull mechanism like the incentive-based rates recently approved by the Maine Public Utilities Commission for ORPC’s project here in Eastport.

Right now the only open water test facility in the US that’s in operation is a wave test facility in Kanneoee Bay, Hawaii.

What ORPC has done is in many ways amazing. They’ve addressed the need for consistent research and development funding with the U.S. Department of Energy, the Maine Technology Institute, and private sector funding. ORPC has been able to integrate and use funding support from every level of government.

They’ve even created an open water test facility when they partnered with the City of Eastport, the Town of Lubec, local businesses, contractors and Washington County residents.

In the absence of market pull mechanisms here in the US, ORPC was able to work with the Maine Public Utilities Commission and local electric providers to create an incentive-based rate to support the development of tidal power here in Maine. All the while, as ORPC has grown its family, creating jobs and economic development for Eastport, Lubec, and surrounding communities, including 13 of the sixteen counties in Maine.

To put that into the global context, the UK’s Carbon Trust estimates the world market at 76 billion British pounds. That’s more than $117 billion US dollars and 63,000 jobs by 2050.

What we have today is the ORPC family and the many elements that they’ve pulled together to create an extended family that has helped drive the responsible commercialization of tidal energy here in Eastport and Lubec.

They’ve done this by articulating a vision that helps define common ground, leverage resources, and align priorities to help forge a clean, sustainable, energy future and the attendant jobs and economic development that goes with this.

So Chris, to your family here at ORPC, and to all the extended family represented here today, I congratulate you on making history and creating a sustainable, clean future for generations to come.”

More information about the event can be found here.

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