ORPC celebrating the launch of its commercial RivGen¨ Power System Wednesday. ( Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald )

BRUNSWICK — Maine-based Ocean Renewable Power Co. has already powered more than 30% of the remote Alaskan community of Igiugig, but with the launch of a new marine renewable energy system, it wants to increase its 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 shares a laugh with ORPC Chairman, CEO & Co-Founder Christopher Sauer Wednesday. ( Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald )

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 System’s 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 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 the 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 to generate electricity in isolated communities that rely heavily on oil.

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,” Gov. Janet Mills said 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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Gov. Janet Mills gets a tour of ORPC’s commercial RivGen¨ Power System at Brunswick Landing Wednesday. Giving the tour are John Ferland, left and Christopher Sauer. Ferland is ORPC’s President & Chief Operating Officer and Sauer is Chairman, CEO & Co-Founder. ( Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald )

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