A tidal turbine is up and running on the edge of New York Harbor this week, the first of what its creator hopes will be hundreds that would generate electricity from the farthest tip of Long Island to New Jersey's Point Pleasant Beach.
"Whether the tide is coming in or out these turbines produce power," explained Roger Bason, President of Natural Currents Energy Services, LLC, based in Highland, N.Y.
His first research turbine is now in the waters of the Shrewsbury River in Highlands, N.J., just a stone's throw from the tip of Sandy Hook and the entrance to New York Harbor's Lower Bay.
The relatively small, almost paddle-like looking device that actually holds several blades sits in five feet of water off the home of Larry Colby, 51, whose family has lived there for at least 5 generations.
He reached out to the company to volunteer his property even before the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico highlighted the danger of oil for our energy.
"What just happened in the Gulf is a perfect example of the way we're getting (energy) may not be the best way of the safest method," Colby said.
In addition, Bason of Natural Currents says the design is intended to be harmless to fish, unlike some other tidal turbines that have been experimented with elsewhere.
The bottom line, of course is cost.
"Half the price of solar," said Bason of its fabrication and installation cost.
"We require no fuel and we produce no pollution so those costs are zero," said Bason.
Just in the Shrewsbury River where the tide runs strong some 16 to 20 hours a day (slack and near slack tides being the exception), Bason expects to get permitting for as many as 50 of his turbines that could produce up to 5 megawatts of power.
That would be enough to handle the electric needs of 2,500 average homes, according to Bason.
But he is looking at sites all over the Tri-State and said LIPA on Long Island has asked him to identify the top 25 sites for his turbines there.
And he said the NJ DEP has asked him to identify the top 20 sites in New Jersey.
Natural Currents is also looking to sell its turbines overseas, from locales as diverse as Fiji and Turkey.
The demonstration research in the Shrewsbury will last 18 months, and after that Bason hopes to build a manufacturing plant--possibly in New Jersey or New York--to bring green jobs as well as green energy to the region.