PORTLAND, Maine — Portland-based Ocean Renewable Power Co. has been awarded two federal grants worth nearly $5 million to help develop the company’s tidal power technology, U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, announced Thursday.

Ocean Renewable Power Co. became the first company in North America to connect tidal power generators to the electric grid with a project currently underway in Cobscook Bay near Eastport. The company’s single turbine generator, when in operation, creates enough electricity to provide power for approximately 25 homes.

Company officials earlier this month told the Bangor Daily News they plan to deploy two more of the generators in 2014, and as many as 18 more within the next five years.

“We’ve proven the technology, but this federal investment will give us the boost we need to take it to the next level,” said Chris Sauer, president of Ocean Renewable Power Co., in a statement issued Thursday. “And it’s going to mean more jobs and investment in Maine.”

One of the U.S. Department of Energy grants was worth $1.9 million and will help the company develop new ways to monitor tidal current, according to Pingree’s office. The other grant, about $3 million, will be used to help fund development of more efficient generator equipment.

“This was a highly competitive grant program. The fact that [Ocean Renewable Power Co.] won two of the 17 awards is an indication of how successful their technology is,” said Pingree in a statement. “This funding will help Maine continue to be a leader in developing new sources of clean energy that create good paying jobs right here at home.”

Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.