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U.S. backs grid for offshore wind energy

WASHINGTON, May 15 (UPI) -- The U.S. government announced it cleared the way for the development of an offshore wind energy transmission line for the Atlantic coast.

Washington cleared the way for the Mid-Atlantic offshore wind energy transmission line. The decision allows project parent company Atlantic Grid Holdings to go ahead with a right-of-way proposal to build a transmission line capable of carrying 7,000 megawatts of electricity derived from wind energy to the mainland grid.

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"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 of Interior David Hayes said in a statement.

There are no commercial-scale wind farms offshore in the United States. A project proposed off the coast of Massachusetts could start providing electricity to the mainland grid within the next two years, however.

AWC Chief Executive Officer Bob Mitchell said similar electric transmission corridors in Europe helped lower offshore wind energy costs by as much as 25 percent.

"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," he said in a statement.

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It's expected to take around 10 years to complete construction of the project.

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