A $5bn transmission line which is intended to send power from wind farms off the East Coast of the US has overcome a legislative obstacle, allowing the Google Inc-backed project to move to the next step in the approval process, officials said.

The US Department of the Interior, reports Reuters, that there was “no overlapping competitive interest” in proposed areas for building the line off the mid-Altantic coast.

Wind power

The ruling cleared the way for an environmental review of the Atlantic Wind Connection line.

The project faces regional and federal regulatory hurdles which backers hope to clear within two years so it can nail down financial agreements and start transmitting power by the end of 2017.

The AWC, which would transport up to 7000 megawatts of power, is also backed by a private company called Good Energies, and Japan’s Marubeni Corp.

Clearing the competitive interest hurdle allows the project to “intelligently plan for the backbone transmission system,” said Bob Mitchell, AWC’s CEO.

The United States does not yet have any offshore wind farms. But the AWC backers hope companies will build them soon, so they can transmit power that has not been generated by burning of fossil fuels.

Interior officials said the government hopes to move forward in coming months with lease sales for companies interested in building the wind farms.

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