Firm Proposes 'Backbone' to Bring
Offshore Wind Power to Market
Feb 26, 2013 - Lauren Gardner - rollcall.com
Among the many roadblocks that have prevented offshore
wind farms from proliferating off the Atlantic coast
is how to get the electricity generated from the
Outer Continental Shelf to the mainland.
A transmission “backbone” that would
run under the ocean floor parallel to the coast is
being proposed as a solution to that problem. The
Atlantic Wind Connection, which counts Google Inc.
among its corporate sponsors, seeks to connect up
to 7,000 megawatts of offshore wind power to locations
on land between northern New Jersey and southern
The backbone transmission line would allow many individual
wind turbines to connect to it and then deliver that
electricity to land through a handful of connections.
The alternative would be aboveground individual lines
from one or a handful of wind turbines, lines that
typically operate at a lower capacity and present
more environmental challenges.
Earlier this year, Atlantic Wind Connection announced
that the first phase of the project would be constructed
off the New Jersey coast because of the state’s
commitment to developing the industry, not to mention
the electricity potential off the state’s southern
The line would benefit state energy consumers by
connecting resources in South Jersey with the congested
market in the north, said Bob Mitchell, the project’s
CEO. By improving the flow of power across the state,
he said, “you now have enabled the very big
prices in northern New Jersey to get reduced and
balanced because the electricity in southern New
Jersey is quite a bit cheaper.”
Of course, that means South Jersey residents would
see their electricity bills increase in the name
of helping out their neighbors closer to New York.
Given the state’s emergence as an early mover
in establishing a viable offshore wind industry in
the United States, the project’s backers see
a path forward to making the transmission line a
But the project still faces a long regulatory process
that must begin with New Jersey itself. No construction
can begin until the state submits a request to PJM
Interconnection, the regional grid organization,
that the line be built.
That is the single largest immediate challenge that
we have in getting the approval to go forward with
the line,” Mitchell said.