Photo of RivGen device currently being built in Brunswick Credit ORPC

A Portland-based renewable technology company is again using a hangar at Brunswick Landing to assemble a device that will generate emission-free electricity from river currents in Alaska.

Dubbed the RivGen Power System, this is the second unit to be assembled at the landing. The device will eventually make its way to Igiugig Village, Alaska, to join the first one in providing renewable electricity for the remote community.

The project costs about $3.5 million and the product was invented by Ocean Renewable Power Company.

Assembly began through Downeast Machine & Engineering at the hangar in February. After being assembled and verified, the device will be then be disassembled and transported, which is planned for May 2021.

Once in Alaska, the product will be fully submerged underwater in the Kvichak River and harness the power of the current to produce electricity for the community’s grid. Igiugig Village is a community of about 70 people, mainly made up of  Yup’ik Eskimos, Aleuts and Athabascan Indians.

“We needed a place to do this dry land testing and assembly, and the hangar space, quite frankly, was perfect for that,” said the President of Ocean Renewable Power Company John Ferland. “At this point in time in our development as a company, and where we are with the market, the Brunswick landing opportunity has helped us.”


The renewable generator is 11.5 feet tall and weighs 32.5 tons.

In 2011, the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority was charged with guiding the redevelopment and civilian use of Brunswick Landing, a former military base.

According to MRRA Executive Director Steve Levesque, Ocean Renewable Power is one of Brunswick Landing’s tenants at TechPlace, a science and technology business center that opened in 2015.

Other examples of a TechPlace business include bluShift Aerospace, which made news in January for being the first company in the world to launch a commercial rocket using bio-derived fuel. According to a list on MRRA’s website, TechPlace hosts 29 firms in total.

Ocean Renewable Power officially partnered with the indigenous people in Igiugig Village, Alaska in 2014, according to Ferland.

The village is inaccessible by automobile, Ferland said, so the final leg of the journey for the product is on a barge.


“This is a population of people who live climate change, it is not an abstract concept to them,” Ferland said, noting that, among other things, the community’s hunting and fishing life has been altered as a result of the changing climate. “They look at sustainability of their community as ranging from food supply, health care, education for kids — but also energy supply.”

Ferland said that over 700 million people, a large portion of which are indigenous communities, function on diesel micro-grids, which can be detrimental both to the environment and local economies.

According to the company’s website, micro-grids can cost up to 12 times the price of electricity from traditional grids.

As early as this summer, once the proper infrastructure is set up and the second RivGen Power System is installed in the river, up to 90% of Igiugig Village’s energy needs will be met by the devices, according to Ocean Renewable’s Director of Communications Susy Kist.

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