WASHINGTON, May 14 (UPI) -- The U.S. Interior Department gave the green light to the next phase of planning for a power transmission line to service wind farms off the Atlantic Coast.
The agency's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said Monday it had found no planned projects that would compete with the Atlantic Wind Connection, which clears the way for the key environmental reviews required to get the ambitious project off the ground.
Atlantic Grid Holdings LLC is proposing the 790-mile high-voltage power line as a "backbone" infrastructure to carry electricity generated by offshore windmills to the onshore power grid in the Mid-Atlantic region.
"The first-of-its-kind Atlantic Wind Connection is an encouraging sign of significant industry interest in developing the infrastructure to support offshore wind development," Deputy Secretary David Hayes said in a written statement. "It is the type of project that will spur the innovation that will help us stand-up a clean energy economy to power communities up and down the east coast."
The Atlantic Wind Connection is designed to run along a 200-foot wide right-of-way on the sea floor parallel to the coast from northern New Jersey to Virginia Beach, Va. When completed in about 10 years, the line would be able to carry a possible 7,000 megawatts from turbines on the Outer Continental Shelf. A megawatt of electricity is roughly enough to power 1,000 homes.
Although the system would advance renewable energy production, it must next pass a potentially complex environmental review that the Obama administration has placed on a fast track.