A 60-kilowatt power plant can look kind of small in a world that usually measures generating capacity in thousand-times-bigger increments of megawatts.

But the little tidal plant in Eastport represents a giant achievement because it promises so much for the future.

Maine is overdependent on fossil fuels for transportation, electricity and home heating. Alternative energy, especially clean power that does not add to greenhouse gas emmissions, is on the policy agenda, but progress has been slow.

So far, the most practical alternative has been land-based wind power, but that has run into oppostion from some environmental groups and neighbors who object to the siting of turbines too close to homes or in sensitive natural environments.

Off-shore wind farms could provide a way around those battles, but it is still unproven and years away from implementation. The viable tidal generator off Eastport could become a welcome addition to the state’s power portfolio at a time when one is really needed.

Developed by the Ocean Renewable Power Co., the plant is delivering something that has been theorized about for some time: It captures the force of Maine’s remarkable tides without causing the visual pollution of a wind turbine or the environmental damage caused by a dam on a river. The installation of this plant will give developers the information they need to install a 150-kw plant before the end of 2011.

There is no single new technology that will fix all of our energy problems, from high costs to pollution.

It will require a multipronged approach involving alternative energy and conservation measures to reduce our demand for expensive and dirty energy sources. But the little plant in Eastport is a big step.

 


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