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Thu May 23 2024

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Atlantic transmission line project clears major hurdle

15 May 12 An investigation by US regulators has cleared the way for environmental analysis of a proposed transmission ‘backbone’ for the proposed Mid-Atlantic offshore wind energy transmission line.

Deputy secretary of interior David Hayes and director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Tommy Beaudreau announced a finding of ‘no competitive interest’. The decision clears the way for the project to move forward with the environmental review necessary to grant the company, Atlantic Grid Holdings a right-of-way for the proposal to build a transmission line that would enable up to 7,000MW of wind turbine capacity to be delivered to the grid.

“As part of the President’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, we are moving ahead to responsibly evaluate and expedite appropriate projects for America’s offshore areas, particularly the wind power-rich Atlantic coast,” said Hayes. “The first-of-its-kind Atlantic Wind Connection is an encouraging sign of significant industry interest in developing the infrastructure to support offshore wind development. It’s the type of project that will spur innovation that will help us stand-up a clean energy economy to power communities up and down the east coast.”

The proposed project is a high-voltage, direct-current subsea transmission system that would collect power generated by wind turbine facilities off the Atlantic coasts of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. Major investors in the Atlantic Wind Connection proposal include Google, Good Energies II, Marubeni Corporation and Elia.

“This ‘backbone’ transmission project would play a central role in bringing energy generated by our nation’s abundant offshore wind power resources to the grid to power homes and businesses,” said Beaudreau. “Our next step will be to evaluate the potential environmental impacts of issuing a renewable energy right-of-way grant for this project.”

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Before proceeding with the review of this project, BOEM had to determine whether there were other developers interested in constructing transmission facilities in the same area. Last December, BOEM put out a request for competitive interest in order to gather that information.

BOEM also solicited public comment on site conditions and multiple uses within the right-of-way grant area that would be relevant to the proposed project or its impacts, yielding nearly 60 public comments that will help inform future decisions. Following the 60-day open comment period, BOEM has determined there is no overlapping competitive interest in the proposed right-of-way grant area off the Mid-Atlantic coast, clearing the way for consideration of the Atlantic Wind Connection.

The proposed transmission line would be constructed in phases to connect offshore wind power to the grid based on the company’s estimates of when offshore wind generation facilities will be in place. A right-of-way grant occupies a corridor 200 feet wide, centered on the cable with additional widths at the hubs. The right-of-way grant corridor is anticipated to extend about 790 statute miles. Full construction of all phases of the multi-stage project would take about 10 years.

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