Maine Trails, June - July '12
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Bridge power

At Eastport meeting, CPM Constructors and Ocean Renewable Power tell of using bridge technology to construct innovative power project

About 70 MBTA members headed Downeast for the annual Washington County meeting on June 14. The highlight of the meeting was a presentation organized by CPM Constructors’ Paul Koziell, on that firm’s innovative use of bridge building technology to construct an underwater platform for Ocean Renewable Power’s (ORPC) first commercial tidal power generators.

The setting, the Eastport Chowder House at the water’s edge, is not far from where the first of the company’s Maine tidal power generators at Kendall Head and Western Passage in Cobscook Bay are expected to go on line with Central Maine Power’s electric grid later this year.

MBTA Vice President Tom Gorrill of Gorrill-Palmer Consulting Engineers was the evening’s emcee, first introducing Maine Senate President Kevin Raye (R-Washington County), who just two days prior had won his party’s nomination for Maine’s Second District U.S. House seat.

‘Good debt, bad debt’

Raye welcomed MBTA members, family and friends to Eastport, where he and his wife, Karen, operate Raye’s Mustard Mill, a family business established in 1900. During the last session of the Maine Legislature, Raye was a strong proponent within his party of a transportation bond referendum, despite objections from several in his party, and he explained his position this way:

“I happen to believe there is good debt and bad debt and building and maintaining transportation infrastructure for the public welfare and commerce is a basic function of government,” said Raye. 

Gorrill then introduced Koziell, who with Peter Krakoff of CPM Constructors and Bob Lewis of ORPC described the first-of-its-kind project from its launch in 2006, through the lengthy regulatory process to its planned hook up to the electrical grid later this year.

 Koziell, who is CPM’s chief operating officer, talked of his company’s involvement in the project, and how CPM has partnered with Morrison Manufacturing to form Perry Marine Construction, the company serving as primary contractor on the underwater construction project.

“This project has been challenging, fun and the first of its kind,” said Koziell, describing the scope of the construction. Perry Marine is fabricating, installing and deploying five tidal generators and steel platforms on the floor of Cobscook Bay. Koziell said his firm’s considerable experience constructing bridges and other marine structures has been an asset during the unusual project.

‘Developing communities’

Lewis, who serves as ORPC’s director of operations and planning and chief safety officer, spoke about the enormous and complex undertaking that has employed 100 people in 13 Maine counties and helped establish a service and supply chain for a brand new power industry.

“We’re developing a power source and we’re developing a technology, but that also leads to developing communities,” said Lewis. 

‘Turn on the switch’

Peter Krakoff, a CPM vice president, talked about the great challenges to the design and fabrication of the steel platforms that will secure the tidal power generators to the floor of the bay. Construction conditions for the project have added a level of challenge to the project – 50-foot variations in the tide, and slack tides, the periods where construction can occur with a minimum of current, last only 45 minutes. To aid in the construction, Perry Marine commissioned four thousand feet of anchor lines specially designed to withstand the effect of the current. And Perry oversaw the design and construction of a 50-by-100-foot, 93,000-pound support frame for the generator and turbine that is anchored to piles driven into the ocean floor. The piles will keep the generators and turbines in place despite a force described by ORPC as equivalent to that of 8,000 locomotives.

“On September 1, we plan to turn on a switch and connect the generator to the electrical grid,” said Krakoff. Still, he was quick to say that already he considers the project to be a “great success for CPM, for Morris Manufacturing and for Perry Marine.”

The evening concluded with the traditional 50-50 raffle drawing. John Wardwell was the winner, and he immediately donated the $150 prize back to the MBTA Educational Foundation, doubling the amount of the evening’s total donations towards scholarships.

FMI: The Washington County Meeting is one of several regional meetings hosted by the MBTA throughout the year addressing transportation and related business issues.

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