New York-based Verdant Power has filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that would allow the company to install up to 30 new tidal power turbines in the East Channel of the East River in New York City. If approved, the project would be the first tidal power plant in the United States licensed to transmit energy onto the national grid.

“[This license application] represents the culmination of nearly a decade of work undertaken by Verdant Power and a variety of project stakeholders to add tidal power to the U.S. clean-energy mix,” said Ron Smith, CEO of Verdant Power.

Titled the Roosevelt Island Tidal Energy (RITE) Project, the initiative has been Verdant Power’s signature effort to commercialize its “Free Flow” kinetic hydropower system, which uses three-bladed turbines deployed in fast-moving tides and rivers to generate clean energy. During 2006–2008, Verdant Power successfully demonstrated a Free Flow System composed of six full-scale turbines, delivering energy to businesses in New York City with no power quality problems.

Verdant Power would install an advanced, fifth-generation Free Flow System through the proposed pilot project. The system is an updated design enhanced for system reliability, cost-effective manufacturing and environmental compatibility.

The Department of Energy (DOE) provided partial funding for this advancement, specifically the design and testing of a new composite turbine blade in partnership with the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and the University of Minnesota’s St. Anthony Falls Laboratory. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the New York City Economic Development Corp. have provided major funding for the development of the RITE Project.

The license application has been submitted under FERC’s Hydrokinetic Pilot Project Licensing Procedures, established to allow for the advancement of U.S. hydrokinetic technologies (tidal, river, wave power), while maintaining FERC oversight and agency input. The application outlines Verdant Power’s plans to meet FERC requirements for installation and operation, including environmental monitoring and public safeguarding.

Verdant Power conducted environmental monitoring of the Free Flow System during the six-turbine demonstration at the RITE Project, developing significant environmental data on the technology that showed no evidence of increased fish injury or mortality in the demonstration area.

Verdant Power would continue environmental monitoring plans, developed in conjunction with federal and state resource agencies, during the proposed pilot project to study any impacts of the larger field, which is planned for incremental installation beginning later this year, pending approvals.