BRUNSWICK — Maine-based Ocean Renewable Power Co. has already powered more than 30 percent of the remote Alaskan community of Igiugig, but with the launch of a new marine renewable energy system, it wants to increase its current reach and spread to isolated and indigenous communities around the world.

The RivGen Power System, built at Brunswick Landing, is a fully submerged turbine generator that harnesses the power of river currents to produce energy. The company also built and operated its TidGen Power System, which harnesses tidal power in much the same way, in Cobscook Bay in Lubec and Eastport.

Gov. Janet Mills laughs with Chris Sauer, CEO of Ocean Renewable Power Co., Wednesday at the launch of its innovative RivGen power system in Brunswick. Press Herald photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

It is “an amazingly imaginative common sense innovation” that will help reduce electric costs and break remote communities’ dependence on diesel fuel, said Gov. Janet Mills at the RivGen commercial launch on Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s a big day for us,” co-founder and CEO Chris Sauer said, adding the company is at work in Quebec and hopes to expand to southern Chile soon, where its work will “improve people’s lives and environments” by using the system to create clean energy while also opening the door for “deeper penetration of solar and wind technology.”

The company started testing its RivGen Power System in a remote village Alaska in 2014. The company initially used its innovative turbine system to harness tidal power, but expanded its research to include river systems. At the time, Sauer reasoned that hundreds of millions of people who either don’t have reliable electricity or pay a lot for it, live close to flowing rivers.

“Rivers are everywhere in the world,” he told the Press Herald in 2014. “So in that sense, it’s a much bigger market.”


The Portland company has been assembling its commercial RivGen Power System at Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority’s Tech Place and Hangar 5. The Ocean Renewable Power Co. has 20 Maine employees and has spent more than $37 million statewide with an economic reach in 14 of the state’s 16 counties, according to John Ferland, president and chief operating officer.

Harnessing the power of the tides has been a long-running challenge, Mills said Wednesday, commending ORPC for turning a “big idea into new technology.”

What better place to start this than in Maine, she said, “the most heating oil-dependent state in the country.”

By using local workers, partners like the University of Maine, and locally sourced supplies, they are “Maine people using Maine’s renewable resources” and are a “shining indicator of Maine’s clean energy future,” Mills said.

Ocean Renewable Power Co. wants to deploy its clean energy systems in isolated communities that rely heavily on oil to generate electricity.

Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority oversees the revitalization of Brunswick Landing, the former naval base and what is now Brunswick Executive Airport after it closed in 2011, eliminating thousands of Brunswick jobs. ORPC is just one of more than 125 businesses now working out of Brunswick Landing, which now has a workforce of more than 1,800, with 2,000 expected by early 2020.


In February, a state-of-the-art composites facility opened at TechPlace with the goal of drawing businesses and workers to manufacturing jobs in Maine.

“It’s my dream … to have a tech center in every region in Maine,” said Mills at the time. The state has the workforce, the motivation, the resources, the raw materials to bring people to Maine, to stay in Maine and expand in Maine, she said, adding that it should be every young person’s dream that after graduation they will either move to or stay here.


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