!2007jan26_tribal-electricity.htmlTEXTR*chBoC嵔rt Bill would allow for forming of tribal electric utility districts -- The Quoddy Tides, Eastport, Maine

The Quoddy Tides

Eastport, Maine

2007 January 26

Bill would allow for forming of tribal electric utility districts

by Edward French

The Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point is continuing to pursue tidal and wind power projects in this area, aiming to provide enough electricity to power local communities. As part of that effort, legislation has been introduced to facilitate the establishment of tribal electric utility districts, which would allow the Passamaquoddy Tribe and the Penobscot Nation to form municipal power districts to serve their territories and to sell any surplus electricity to power companies.

Although the bill would allow power generated by the tidal and wind projects to be placed into the transmission grid, Rick Doyle, chief of the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point, says, "We want to find ways to provide directly to the community and sell off the rest. We see that as developing the infrastructure of the tribe and supporting the economy here."

Both Doyle and Passamaquoddy Rep. Donald Soctomah, a co-sponsor of the bill, are not aware of any consideration to use the proposed utility district as a vehicle for the co-generation of electricity related to the Quoddy Bay LNG project. According to Brian Smith, project manager for Quoddy Bay LNG, co-generation of electricity at natural gas facilities is common, and it's possible one might develop at the Quoddy Bay site if the project proceeds. However, he adds, "We haven't looked at partnering with the tribe" for co-generation.

A hearing on the bill, which is sponsored by Rep. Hannah Pingree of North Haven, will be held by the legislature's Utilities and Energy Committee on Thursday, February 8, at 2 p.m. in the Cross Office Building in Augusta.

Wind and tidal projects proceeding

The tribe is working with Underwater Electric Kite of Baltimore, Md., on its tidal power proposal and is actively gathering data so that the submerged turbines will be sited where there is sufficient current, according to Doyle. "Hopefully we'll decide on a site in the near future, and we hope to see in the next couple years at least the construction phase."

Other companies also have been studying the feasibility of tidal power projects in Passamaquoddy and Cobscook bays, including ORPC Maine LLC, which in November signed a partnership with the City of Eastport to collaborate of the development of two tidal energy sites off Eastport. Although the tribe has sought to work with Eastport, the attorney for ORPC Maine, from the Pierce Atwood law firm in Portland, gave a hostile response to the tribe's offer to share information, according to Doyle. Although it's possible that several sites could be used for underwater turbines, he notes that they work best where there is an optimum tidal flow, and both companies might decide on the same location. "They need to at least come to the table and talk," says Doyle, adding, "The tribe is determined to continue this work."

Both Pleasant Point and Indian Township are involved with the project to develop a wind farm on the tribe's blueberry barrens in Township 19. The proposal for a small wind farm is still in the development stage, and the impact on the blueberry barrens needs to be studied. There is some concern about how much land will be taken out of production by the footprint of the wind towers.


© 2007 The Quoddy Tides
Eastport, Maine
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.