U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Water Power Program

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Issues First Tidal Power Project License

January 25, 2012

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) yesterday approved the first-ever commercial license for a U.S. tidal energy project, which will use New York City's East River tidal currents to generate electricity. The project, owned by Verdant Power and licensed for ten years, will install as many as 30 turbines on more than 21 acres along the strait that connects the Long Island Sound with the Atlantic Ocean in the New York Harbor.  

"The Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy project is a prime example of an innovative MHK technology that will advance progress towards commercialization of the entire industry,” said Sean O'Neill, president of the Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition (OREC). "MHK renewable energy continues to be a critical aspect in allowing us to improve our country's energy security and independence, create jobs and lower our carbon footprint.”

Headquartered in New York, Verdant Power has been developing hydropower technology since 2000. Verdant Power's Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy (RITE) project was initiated in 2002 and approved by the state of New York last month. Under the new license for the RITE project, Verdant Power will install turbines in three phases, operate the system remotely, and will employ a team of technicians to maintain the equipment and monitor the surrounding environment. In May 2011 FERC issued an Environmental Assessment (EA) finding no significant impact for Verdant Power's ten-year pilot application license for the RITE project.

The new licensing process, instituted by FERC in 2008, allows developers to test new hydropower technologies while maintaining FERC oversight and agency input, and has seen a recent rise in hydrokinetic project interest. As of January 9, 2012, 100 hydrokinetic projects have been issued preliminary permits to study the feasibility of developing a specific project and another 78 projects are in pre-filing for their license.

"OREC looks forward to the approval of additional pending licenses for MHK projects in the near future as the benefits of utilizing clean and renewable power from our vast marine resources are fully realized.” O'Neill concluded.