May 4, 2023

Firm in Millinocket to make turbine shafts for ORPC underwater power systems

ORPC, a Portland-based developer of renewable power systems that harness energy from free-flowing rivers and tidal currents, announced Wednesday it selected Millinocket Fabrication & Machine to manufacture the turbine shafts for its portfolio of products.

The portfolio includes Modular RivGen devices expected to be assembled, tested and showcased later this year at One North, a Millinocket industrial park that was once a Great Northern Paper mill site.

Earlier this year, ORPC, also known as Ocean Renewable Power Co., announced its plans to create a testing center at One North to support design and development of the next-generation Modular RivGen.

Millinocket Fabrication & Machine is one of the oldest such plants in Millinocket.

“We have been designing and manufacturing parts for our partners on the former GNP site for over 100 years and we are happy to welcome a new business to the One North industrial site,” Fred Lewis, the company’s president, said in a news release.

Stuart Davies, ORPC’s CEO, said ORPC is expanding its footprint in Maine and adding jobs.

“Securing business with Millinocket Fabrication helps strengthen ORPC’s strategy for market growth ahead,” he said.

In 2022, ORPC’s RivGen Power System, operated in partnership with the village of Igiugig, Alaska, became the longest operating hydrokinetic project in the Americas, according to the release. It provides baseload renewable power from the free-flowing Kvichak River to the remote community and with the addition of a second RivGen device, smart grid controls and a battery energy storage system now in progress, Igiugig will reduce its diesel use by 60 to 90%.

The goal is to provide clean renewable energy to remote communities worldwide, replacing diesel-fueled microgrids, lessening diesel dependence, and lowering carbon emissions, noise, and environmental risk.

Over 700 million people worldwide depend upon diesel microgrids, and two billion people have little or no access to electricity. ORPC has projects in Canada and Chile, in addition to Alaska.

The Modular RivGen system was designed for use in grid-connected markets, with applications for large rivers, electrical vehicle charging networks, hydroelectric facilities, irrigation canals and bridges, piers, breakwaters and flood controls systems. Along with using its own resources, ORPC secured funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office to initiate product and market development.

In addition to providing the turbine shaft for the Modular RivGen device, Millinocket Fabrication will supply similar components for ORPC’s commercial RivGen device and its TidGen-80 device, currently under development and scheduled for initial testing later this year in Cobscook By in Eastport.

ORPC will begin Modular RivGen product testing later this year at One North in Millinocket Stream and will work with One North to evaluate the site as a future hydrokinetic testing facility and a location to demonstrate contemporary use cases such as EV charging.

ORPC has 26 employees in Maine. The company is headquartered in Portland and has an electronics and engineering laboratory at TechPlace in Brunswick and a marine operations center for tidal energy testing in Eastport.