Atlantic Wind Connection looks a step closer to reality


By: SGN Staff


The Atlantic Wind Connection appears to be moving ahead with plans for the first leg of an offshore transmission line, a 189-mile stretch that will run from Jersey City to south of Atlantic City, according to a Sustainable Business news article. That first leg is roughly half of what should eventually be a 350-mile high-voltage line that will carry power generated from offshore wind farms to the mainland and connect the wind farms so separate transmission lines would not be needed for each farm.


Two years ago, New Jersey officials gave the Atlantic Wind Connection a harsh reception, worried that the line would mean rate hikes for customers and that it would hamper the state's ability to get in on offshore wind farms.


But Atlantic Wind Connection CEO Robert Mitchell was quoted in the article as saying "The NJ Energy Link can make the grid more reliable and lower the cost of energy in New Jersey by delivering both offshore wind and conventional electricity to where it is needed and when it is needed along the coast, whether that  be southern, central or northern New Jersey." The line would be located 12-14 miles offshore.


Hurricane Sandy also presented developers with another argument: since the line would be buried 12-14 miles off the coast it would be immune to storms and could act as an emergency power source if needed in the future.


Apparently, developers picked New Jersey as the starting point because it cuts out the challenges of working with several states at once. And, since the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard calls for 22.5% of the state's power to come from renewables by 2021, a lot of that power could be provided by offshore wind because there are few locations for onshore wind farms.


The company wants to get the necessary regulatory approvals by 2015 and would begin construction that year. Also, the state needs to ask PJM Interconnection, the regional grid operator, to determine how the project would affect electricity prices. Based on that customers would receive an added charge to pay for it.


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