Energy Dept. Spends $10 Million on Water Turbine to Power 25 Houses

From The Foundry:

The first underwater turbine to make use of tidal energy went live last week in Maine, supported by a $10 million investment by the Department of Energy.

The Ocean Renewable Power Company Maine’s Cobscook Bay Tidal Energy Pilot Project received the Energy Department money to build, install, and operate the hydrokinetic energy conversion devices situated at the easternmost tip of the state.

The turbine, with a rated capacity of 180 kW, is expected to generate enough power for 25 to 30 homes.

The electricity produced by the tidal generation will be sold by Ocean Renewable Power Company to Maine’s utilities under a 20-year power purchase agreement, according to The initial price of 21.5 cents per kilowatt hour is almost double the current average price of 11.21 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity in Maine.

Heritage’s Nick Loris, a critic of government subsidies for energy sources, said Washington should stop propping up industries that happen to have good connections in Washington. “Taxpayer-funded programs do not create jobs; they shift them from one sector of the economy to another,” Loris recently wrote. “The opportunity cost of government spending is the lost labor and capital extracted from other sectors of the economy to artificially support the politically preferred ones. If underwater turbines are a good investment, companies shouldn’t need subsidies to build them.”

The power company plans to construct a network of as many as 20 of the seafloor-mounted underwater turbines to eventually produce electricity for approximately 1,200 homes:

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Photo courtesy Living Off Grid, flickr