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Multibillion-dollar offshore wind "backbone" to begin in New Jersey

Posting in Energy

The first phase of a massive underwater power transmission "backbone" off the U.S. Mid-Atlantic coast will begin construction in 2016 in New Jersey, companies behind the project revealed Tuesday.

Eventually, the AWC will be able to connect 7,000 megawatts of offshore wind turbine, generating enough energy to power 1.9 million households.

For now, the project, which is led by independent transmission company Trans-Elect, developed by Atlantic Grid Development and backed by Bregal Energy, Elia, Good Energies, Google and Marubeni Corporation, is focusing on the so-called New Jersey link.

The offshore electrical transmission cable, which will span the length of New Jersey and carry 3,000 MW of electricity, is expected to be operational in 2019, reported Bloomberg News.

The companies behind the project say the project will reduce congestion on the power grid and help future offshore wind farms avoid the cost and regulatory problems. They also argue the backbone, which will be buried under the sea floor, will be immune to storms, a feature that has become appealing in a post-superstorm Sandy landscape.

A study released last year by IHS Global Insight said the New Jersey link will pump about $9 billion into the state economy.

New Jersey was picked for the first 189-mile phase because it could level the significant price differences for electricity within the state, providing an economic benefit that justifies the $1.3 billion price tag, reported the New York Times.

The project still faces a long slog through a regulatory swampland. Last May, the Interior Department determined there was no competitive interest for the use of certain areas of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf to build an offshore transmission system, a decision that allowed the project to move forward with the permitting process. the project must still be approved by the Interior Department.

New Jersey also will have to submit a request to PJM Interconnection, the regional grid operator, for the project to be built, reported the NYT.

Graphic: AWC

— By on January 15, 2013, 7:53 AM PST

Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure