The US Department of Interior has cleared the way for the Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) to move forward in its permitting process after a year of intensive internal and public review.
The department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) declared that no competing regional bodies have contested the project, allowing Atlantic Grid holdings to begin an environmental impact study.
AWC is the first offshore electric transmission system proposed in the US and will enable up to 7000MW of offshore wind capacity.
The project has been backed by Google and several other investors, which are convinced it will be successful and have agreed to provide $5bn in funding.
The transmission system will be constructed off the coasts of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, spanning around 300 miles, and constructed in phases over a ten-year period.
AWC CEO Bob Mitchell said the decision was an important step to what could be the world’s first electric transmission superhighway for offshore wind.
"Studies conducted in Europe and the UK show that a backbone grid is critical to the success of large-scale offshore wind and could reduce the cost of offshore wind by 25%," he said.
"This milestone allows the AWC to proceed to intelligently plan for the backbone transmission system that is necessary for an entirely new robust offshore wind industry to develop in America."
"There is no reason for the US to have to yield all of the factories and jobs to Europe and China."
The determination of no competitive interest (DNCI) was made after soliciting input from other potential competitors and the public.
The DNCI issuance allows BOEM to grant the project a right-of-way once the environmental impact of the project has been reviewed.
The study will analyse and measure the impact that the power line will have on fishing, boating and wildlife.
Image: Atlantic Grid’s project will enable up to 7000MW of offshore wind capacity. Photo: courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.