Project Announced by Trans-Elect; Backed by Good Energies, Google and Marubeni Corp.
Will Enable Offshore Wind Energy Growth in Mid-Atlantic Region, Spur Jobs and Economic Growth.
WASHINGTON, DC AWC [WorldofRenewables.com]
Capturing the enormous potential of offshore wind energy along the Mid-Atlantic coast took a significant step forward today with the announcement of the Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) backbone transmission project led by well-established independent transmission company Trans-Elect and sponsored by Good Energies, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Marubeni Corporation (TYO: 8002).
Designed to accelerate offshore wind development, the AWC project will help the industry create thousands of jobs, improve consumer access to clean energy sources, and increase the reliability of the Mid-Atlantic region’s existing power grid.
“This new American super grid off the Mid-Atlantic coast will unlock an important untapped resource, creating the foundation for a new industry and jobs for thousands of American workers,” said Bob Mitchell, CEO of Trans-Elect.
The Mid-Atlantic region offers more than 60,000 MW of offshore wind potential in the relatively shallow waters of the outer continental shelf. These shallow waters, which extend miles out to sea, allow for the development of large, distant wind farms, mitigating visibility issues and allowing for greater energy capture from stronger winds. With few other renewable energy options ideally suited for the Atlantic coast, this transmission project will help states meet their renewable energy goals and standards by enabling the local offshore wind industry to deploy thousands of megawatts of clean, cost-effective energy.
Without a transmission backbone, offshore wind developers would be forced to bring energy to land via radial lines that can make balancing the region’s existing grid more difficult. In addition, a single offshore backbone with a limited number of landfall points will minimize the environmental impacts of building multiple individual radial lines to shore. The AWC project not only reduces the need to build many lower-capacity transmission lines, but relieves grid congestion in one of two National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors which were deemed to have significant transmission network congestion and need speedy creation of transmission capacity.
When complete, the AWC backbone will be able to connect 6,000 MW of offshore wind, enough power to serve approximately 1.9 million households. The system is also scalable and can be expanded to accommodate additional offshore wind energy as the industry further develops. The use of High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) technology allows for easier integration and control of multiple wind farms while avoiding the electrical losses associated with more typical High Voltage Alternating Current (HVAC) lines. With this strong backbone in place, larger and more energy efficient wind farms can connect to offshore power hubs further out to sea. These power hubs will in turn be connected via sub-sea cables to the strongest, highest capacity parts of the land-based transmission system.
In addition to enabling the production of thousands of megawatts of clean power, the AWC backbone will help spur the creation of local jobs. Development of wind energy off the Atlantic coast could create between 133,000 and 212,000 U.S. jobs according to Oceana, an ocean-conservation group. The U.S. Department of Energy also estimates that more than 43,000 permanent operations and maintenance jobs would be created if 54,000 MW of offshore wind turbines were installed by 2030. For comparison, the offshore wind industry in Europe is expected to create 215,000 new jobs by 2030.
The Obama Administration, as well as Governors, Members of Congress and key state legislators from New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, have expressed strong support for offshore wind development.
“The AWC backbone will both relieve transmission congestion in one of the nation’s most restricted power markets as well as enable the development of a huge offshore wind capacity that can bring stability and security to the Eastern Power Grid,” said John Breckenridge, Managing Director at Good Energies. “With this line in place, offshore projects can be constructed at lower cost, with less impact on the environment and with the ability to deliver power wherever it is needed along the Mid-Atlantic coast.”
“We’re excited about the potential of this project to help the Mid-Atlantic states meet their renewable energy goals by providing a platform that can rapidly accelerate the deployment of clean offshore wind at lower total cost,” said Rick Needham, Director of Green Business Operations at Google. “Transmission is one of the key constraints to the wider adoption of clean energy, so this project was a natural fit with our corporate goal of investing in attractive renewable energy projects that can have dramatic impact.”
“The U.S. will require large investments in its electric transmission grid to meet its renewable and energy independence goals,” said Richard Straebel, Executive Vice President of Marubeni Power International. “Over the past few years this sector has been an increasingly important part of Marubeni’s U.S. power market activities and we are very excited about our role in this strategic and transformational project.”
AWC’s filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission later this year will outline details of the project including how it benefits consumers and businesses by improving power flows across the region. The project will continue collaborating with developers and officials to map the optimal path for the line. To begin construction, AWC will need approval from federal, state, regional and local regulators as well as from PJM, the region’s grid operator.
About Atlantic Grid Development
Markian Melnyk developed the AWC concept while researching “Offshore Power,” his book on offshore renewable energy. Melnyk was joined by Ken Epp and Mohamed El-Gassier, industry leaders in high-voltage direct current transmission at DC Interconnect; Eli Farrah, an expert in transmission regulation at Dewey & LeBoeuf; and Robert Mitchell, Paul McCoy and Marty Walicki, principles of Trans-Elect, a successful and experienced independent transmission company. These individuals have formed Atlantic Grid Development, LLC (AGD), the project’s developer. Paul McCoy is CEO of AGD and Dewey & LeBoeuf is counsel to the project.
Since 1999, Trans-Elect, the nation’s first independent transmission company, has been a leader in several innovative projects including acquisition of 5,400 miles of transmission lines in Michigan and 7,200 miles of lines in Alberta, Canada. Trans-Elect, PG&E and the US Department of Energy’s Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) formed a partnership to build 83 miles of transmission in California for the Path 15 project that successfully overcame deficiencies contributing to the state’s 2000-01 rolling blackouts (Trans-Elect and Path 15 were awarded “Infrastructure Deal of the Year for the Americas” by Project Finance International magazine). www.trans-elect.com.
About DC Interconnect
Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, DC Interconnect, Inc. (DCI) specializes in the development and systematic integration of advanced high-voltage dc (HVDC) transmission technology to facilitate access to new resources, increase transmission capacity and transfer capability in existing power grids, improve the efficiency of the operation of electricity markets and prevent regional blackouts. DCI holds a patent on the optimal integration of HVDC technology with large grids. DCI was founded by Dr. Mohamed M. El-Gasseir and H. D. Kenneth Epp in 2002. www.dcinterconnections.com.
About Dewey & LeBoeuf
Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP has more than 1,100 lawyers in 26 offices in 15 countries, and a rich heritage built upon 100 years of collective achievement and distinction. The firm is active in many sectors, including energy, financial services, insurance and life sciences, and is dedicated to handling complex, challenging legal assignments from the world’s leading companies and organizations. Eli Farrah is a partner in the firm’s Washington, DC Office and specializes in electric transmission matters including regulatory and tariff related issues. www.dl.com.
About Good Energies
Good Energies is a leading global investor in renewable energy and energy efficiency industries. The firm invests in solar, turbine-based renewables, green building technologies and other emerging areas within clean energy. Founded in 2001, Good Energies manages the renewable energy portfolio of COFRA, a family owned and managed group of companies. Guided by the 3-P principle of People-Planet-Profit, Good Energies aims to bring financial success together with sustainable returns for the environment and for society. The firm seeks to help drive the transition to a low-carbon economy, as well as to bring affordable renewable energy to the developing world. www.goodenergies.com.
About Google Inc.
Google’s innovative search technologies connect millions of people around the world with information every day. Founded in 1998 by Stanford Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google today is a top web property in all major global markets. Google’s targeted advertising program provides businesses of all sizes with measurable results, while enhancing the overall web experience for users. Google is headquartered in Silicon Valley with offices throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia. For more information, visit www.google.com.
About Marubeni Corporation
Marubeni Corporation is a publicly listed trading house (“Sogo Shosha”) founded in 1858 with its principal office in Tokyo, Japan. Its divisions participate in industries ranging from power and energy to industrial machinery and transportation to foodstuffs and consumer items. Marubeni Corporation owns electric transmission and distribution assets in the Caribbean and Australia and has over 7,300MW of net power plant capacity globally, including power stations in several U.S. states. Marubeni manages its electricity sector investments in North America through Marubeni Power International, Inc., based in New York, NY. www.marubeni.com.