A Portland-based renewable energy company plans to test its technology that generates electricity from river currents at the site of the former Great Northern Paper Co. paper mill in Millinocket.
The move by Ocean Renewable Power Co. would make it the second tenant at the former mill site since the nonprofit Our Katahdin bought the old industrial property in 2017.
The new testing site would allow the power company to assemble, test and showcase a smaller version of its RivGen device, which generates lower-emission electricity using river currents and connects into existing electrical grids.
Ocean Renewable Power Co. built and installed a RivGen system in 2014 in Igiugig, Alaska, which the company said generated a third of the village’s electricity needs, and plans to add a second device there sometime this year that would reduce the village’s diesel output by 90 percent.
The company has also worked on technology that harnesses ocean currents to produce energy.
The company won a contract in 2012 with the Maine Public Utilities Commission to operate an underwater turbine generator system in Cobscook Bay off the coast of Eastport, the first of any ocean project to deliver power to the U.S. electrical grid.
“Securing the partnership with Our Katahdin helps strengthen ORPC’s strategy for market growth ahead,” CEO Stuart Davies said.
The power company is also considering the mill site as a future production facility and showroom space, Davies said. In addition to its Portland headquarters, the company has offices in Eastport; Anchorage, Alaska; Montreal; and Dublin, Ireland.
Our Katahdin president Sean DeWitt said he welcomed the company’s foray into Millinocket. The nonprofit has been seeking other industrial tenants since signing a lease last summer with California company Nautilus Data Technologies to open a data center on the former mill site.
“Our partnership with ORPC is yet another example of our area’s suitability for new economic opportunities related to innovative technologies,” DeWitt said.