The Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) filed a right-of-way application with the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to use parts of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf to construct an offshore transmission system.

The project outlined in the application would enable up to 7,000 MW of offshore wind energy generation capacity to be integrated into the regional power grid operated by PJM Interconnection. This high-voltage direct-current subsea transmission system would be constructed off the coasts of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

Atlantic Wind is led by Trans-Elect with Atlantic Grid Development as the project developer and Good Energies, Google and Marubeni Corp. as sponsors.

The project ultimately would span roughly 300 miles of federal waters from the northern New Jersey/New York City metropolitan area to Virginia. AWC modeled wind speeds, offshore turbine foundation costs and wind turbine output to plot optimal places to locate offshore wind farms within the offshore areas the Bureau of Ocem Management has designated for wind energy projects. That process eliminated 75 percent of that area from consideration.

The corridor represents 297 OCS blocks and will be further narrowed following offshore survey activities intended to satisfy state and federal requirements, including the National Environmental Policy Act and the Coastal Zone Management Act. Ultimately, AWC’s will require a corridor for the cables buried in the seabed of 200 feet or less in width encompassing an estimated 24 square miles.

AWC’s offshore transmission system is designed to connect multiple offshore wind farms to the strongest portions of the existing onshore transmission system. AWC would be operated as a federally regulated public utility with the responsibility for providing open-access transmission service. AWC is not seeking any OCS areas for the purpose of wind energy generation. Wind energy projects that connect to AWC’s transmission network would be built by unaffiliated entities using OCS leases secured from BOEM in separate applications.

The five phases of AWC’s project, when fully built, would comprise about 650 miles of offshore transmission circuits constructed over approximately a 10-year timeframe:
– Phase A. The offshore portion from southern New Jersey to Delaware with up to 2,000 MW capacity;
– Phase B. The offshore portion from southern New Jersey to the northern New Jersey/New York metropolitan area with a capacity of up to 1,000 MW;
– Phase C. The offshore portion from Maryland to the northern New Jersey/New York metropolitan area with a capacity of up to 2,000 MW;
– Phase D. The offshore portion from Maryland to Virginia with up to 1,000 MW capacity; and
– Phase E. The offshore portion from Delaware to Virginia with a capacity of up to 1,000 MW.

AWC’s schedule has manufacturing and construction of Phase A between Indian River, Del., and southern New Jersey beginning in early 2013, with completion and commencement of commercial service in 2016. Phase B could be operational in early 2017 and would interconnect additional wind farms along the coastline. Subject to permits and availability of materials, components and equipment, the entire system could be in operation by 2021.

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