Clean Power

Published on January 17th, 2013 | by Andrew


Atlantic Wind Connection Chooses New Jersey for Phase I Offshore Transmission Backbone

January 17th, 2013 by  

Winds off the extensive coasts of the US hold enormous potential, not only as sources of clean, renewable energy, but as a natural resource base that can power sustainable socioeconomic development. Altering the course of US energy policy after decades of supporting the fossil fuel industry, the Obama administration has managed to put in place the policies and institutional framework and is capitalizing on it.

Winds off the US Atlantic coast could produce enough clean, renewable electricity to power at least one-third of the entire US or the entire East Coast from Maine to Florida, at least theoretically, according to a study performed by a Stanford University research team. Key to realizing all this potential is building the high-voltage transmission lines that would carry and deliver the electricity generated via offshore winds to urban centers and other areas.

With sponsors including Google, Marubeni, private equity firm Bregal Energy and Belgium transmission system operator Elia, the Atlantic Wind Connection announced January 14 that it had selected New Jersey as the the for the first phase of a project that entails laying a high-voltage, direct current (DC) electricity transmission backbone under the US Atlantic seabed that would stretch from New York City to Virginia.

AWC Phases

Blow, Wind Blow

Independent transmission company Trans-Elect and Atlantic Grid Development are AWC’s project developers. With a planned capacity of 3,000 megawatts (MW), the so-called New Jersey (NJ) Energy Link is to extend the length of the Mid-Atlantic state, linking offshore wind energy resources and consumers in northern, central and southern Jersey, according to Atlantic Wind Connection’s (AWC) press release.

Winds in the Mid-Atlantic region’s shallow Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) hold more than 60,000 MW of offshore wind energy potential, according to assessments performed under the aegis of the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). The Dept. of Interior and BOEM last May paved the way forward for an environmental review of AWC’s build-out, issuing a finding of “no competitive interest” and granting Atlantic Grid Holdings LLC right-of-way.

Building a backbone for the transmission of electricity produced from these offshore winds is the most efficient and effective means of enabling offshore wind power project developers to build out offshore wind turbine arrays and deliver clean, renewable electricity where it’s needed, AWC and offshore wind power proponents assert.

An offshore Atlantic power transmission backbone would also lay the groundwork for building a new marine clean energy industry, one that would provide jobs, income, investment returns and tax revenue while avoiding the carbon and greenhouse gas emissions that result from burning coal and fossil fuels to generate electricity for generations to come, they add.

Clean, Renewable Electricity for Nearly 2 Million Households

When completed, the AWC will be able to carry as much as 7,000 MW of offshore wind energy to consumers along the US East Coast, enough for some 1.9 million households, according to AWC.

With a project plan that envisages construction extending from 2016-2026, Atlantic Grid Energy intends to build out the offshore transmission backbone in five phases at an expected cost of $6.311 billion.

Completing the project would enable transmission of clean, renewable offshore wind power to consumers in NY, Pennsylvania, NJ, Delaware, Maryland, Washington D.C. and Virginia. According to a project analysis performed by IHS Global Insight, the AWC transmission backbone would be able to deliver 3,417 MW of electrical power to consumers in NJ (44% of AWC’s total capacity); 1,015 MW to those in Delaware (13%); 1,013 MW to those in Maryland; and 2.297 MW to consumers in Virginia (30%).

IHS projects that the NJ Energy Link will create more than 20,000 jobs in the state, injecting $9 billion into NJ’s economy and adding some $2.2 billion to the state treasury. These figures are based on construction of offshore wind turbines in NJ OCS waters with a total capacity of 3,400 MW.

Contrary to opponents’ contention that building out the AWC and offshore wind farms will increase electricity rates to consumers, AWC contends that the NJ Energy Link will reduce them by improving the flow of electricity to minimize energy peaks that cause high prices; moving the cheapest and cleanest energy to where it is needed, when it is needed; and minimizing costly upgrades to the grid.

“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,” AWC CEO Robert Mitchell asserted in the company’s press release.

Addressing critics who point to the intermittent nature of wind power generation, AWC says the offshore transmission backbone will be able to supply electricity to consumers 100% of the time, “not just when the wind is blowing.”

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About the Author

I've been reporting and writing on a wide range of topics at the nexus of economics, technology, ecology/environment and society for some five years now. Whether in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Africa or the Middle East, issues related to these broad topical areas pose tremendous opportunities, as well as challenges, and define the quality of our lives, as well as our relationship to the natural environment.

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  • Venture Guy

    why no mention of the recent study in the UK and Denmark clearing showing that industrial off shore wind turbines have useful life about 1/2 of the predicted lifespan? Of course with the build now, build everywhere and cost is no object mentality ..I guess this is fine…as this is about spending the most, not lowering usage or producing low carbon electricity. Currently the Northeast USA electricity usage is going down and efficiency will keep it going down…while GE and Goldman and Buffet make a buck of this foolishness.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Finally you say something of value.

      Yes, efficiency is lowering our energy needs. That’s a good thing.

      That means that we’ll have to install less renewable generation in order to get fossil fuels off our grids as soon as possible.

      I don’t know what your problem is with GE and Goldman (whoever he is) and Buffet. They are helping us get off fossil fuels.

      Try aiming your wrath at the actual villains – the Koch brothers, the coal mine owners, big oil – the people that are destroying the planet out of greed.

      • Venture Guy

        HAHA HA ….Buffet and Goldman Sach are helping….you have to be kidding. They go where the free money is. Renewables are a FRAUD! Ethanol now eats up 30% of our food…driving prices food prices higher and harming the land…while emitting MORE CO2 than regualar gas! Have you read that our corn stocked piles are down…guess why? BIOMASS is the burning of WOOD and PLANTS…which emits more CO2 per unit of power than COAL and lots more than Natural Gas. Nuclear which emits ZERO CO2 never is part of the solution for the ignorant idealist. Renewables kill more birds and bats than coal, oil and Natural Gas combined. You are being played for you ignorance. In 10 years you will be told we still need to give money to investment bankers because the pathetic renewables are a pittance.

        • Bob_Wallace

          I agree. Corn ethanol is a mistake.

          “Free money”? Don’t know what your sniffing.

          Biofuel is CO2 neutral. The CO2 released is carbon that was already out of sequestration, unlike CO2 from fossil fuel. If biofuel helps us keep some fossil fuel below the surface, that’s a good thing.

          Nuclear has a higher lifetime CO2 footprint than either solar or wind. You can’t look at only one part of the process, you must look at the entire process.

          Someone has sold you a load of horse apples re: bird/wind deaths.


          The study estimates that wind farms and nuclear power stations are responsible each for between 0.3 and 0.4 fatalities per gigawatt-hour (GWh) of electricity while fossil-fueled power stations are responsible for about 5.2 fatalities per GWh.”


          Your use of all caps is unappreciated.

          • Venture Guy

            Bob, I like using caps to EMPHASIZES,

            I have been party to a studies when it comes to wind and solar…and the truth is fudged to make them look good. I am familiar with many reports published by the government which come from AWEA American Wind Engery Association lobbyists group when it comes to birds and bat kills. These reports are BOLD FACED LIES Just like the fictional estimate that get pushed around about how many birds and bats die hitting houses and cars and killed by cats…these are just fiction to make wind turbines sound good. How many raptors are killed by house cats? My favorite is Industrial Wind Turbines kill 1-2 birds a year. FACT is real world reports show many turbines killing 70-100 birds and bats a year! Real World Studies with dead bodies show that wind turbines are extremely lethal to raptors. Industrial Wind Turbines kill more Golden Eagles than anything else in California! A detailed study in California showed the deaths of the tracked 200 golden eagles and the number one killer were industrial wind turbines! In NJ within one year of build 5 Indutrial Wind Turbine they killed a peregrine falcon of which there are only 25 pairs. Osprey are getting killed in high numbers along the east coast. I got my start learning about wind turbines when the powers that be wanted to build them in a National Park. Imagine a 400 ft industrial plant in a national park…lots of gleamy eyed people defended this indefensible project. They did an sound study on the effect of nearby people…that was laughable. I have worked with a number of people that were pro wind turbine until they got built nearby and they learned of the harm and then have spent years try to undo the harm. Industrial Wind Turbines are a plausible costly solution…problem is they are very costly and break down years earlier than claimed(FACT), there are many happy middlemen making money regardless of whether they work a day that push these to the gullible I have read the studies of Texas’ Experience with wind energy, or that Denmark now has stopped land based because of the harm. GE is happy to take your money and take your money again when they break down, the electric company is happy to pay high rates and then just say they are doing their part and need to raise your electric rate 10% a year for a decade….Oh and they need to build a new grid and all new generation plants as they are cost plus operations. There are much better ways to lower CO2 and not destroy so much open space!
            I love when people talk about how industrial wind turbines are going to get us off foreign oil….really…natural gas has replaced oil for power production…not wind and solar!
            I know you can’t be convinced with facts and sadly the destruction and waste of money continues…but I work with a number of smart people that have seen the fraud and are fighting it!

        • Yes corn ethanol is a mistake. Modern wind turbines pose no threat to birds with their large size & slow turning speeds. Bat deaths can be reduced by siting decisions, stopping turbines in evening hours or migrations. White-nose disease is a far bigger threat to them.

    • Study on turbine lifespan “Just more anti-wind propaganda”

      “In Scotland The Herald quotes Jenny Hogan, director of policy for Scottish Renewables, saying “Let’s also remember that Gordon Hughes’s previous research on wind energy has been described by the UK Energy Research Council’s Dr Robert Gross and others at Imperial College, London, as ‘economically irrational, a nonsense scenario’ and ‘economically absurd, spurious and misleading’.”

      • Venture Guy

        That is hysterical…you are sending me lobbyists articles I would like to point out I along with all the people I work with, get paid ZERO trying to stop this fraud. Go read the real world experience like Otis ANG Base Cape Cod Massachusetts…where there is never enough wind and too many breakdowns.


        read what Fritz Vahrenholt German’s God Father of the Greens and former head of Germany’s largest renewables energy company RWE and his recognition of the abject failure of wind and solar and their impact on Global Warming

        Go read the detailed study by ERCOT on SO2 and NO2(real pollutants) emission increasing because of wind energy use

        Going to send me another lobbyist propaganda piece?

        • Bob_Wallace

          Ah, someone acknowledges the existence of an anti-wind organization.

          That confirms why we see swarms of these characters from time to time.

          • Venture Guy

            you mean intelligent people that see wind energy as mostly about people collecting tax and rate payer money, that they kill millions of birds and bats, harm people when built near their homes, destroy open space and do little to lower pollution? Yes there are lots of people that see it for the fraud it is…

          • Bob_Wallace

            I generally feel that people who believe what you do are likely to be intelligent. They often come across like not very bright climate change deniers, birthers, anti-vaccine, etc. types. People who have grasped an idea and don’t bother to check to see if facts support their position.
            Perhaps they are and only badly informed, so badly informed that they appear to be stupid and say stupid things.

            Let me assume for the moment that you aren’t stupid and offer you some facts.

            Investing in and building wind farms is not about collecting tax money. Fossil fuels and nuclear energy get far, far more tax money than does wind. If it was about collecting tax dollars then people would be investing in fossil fuels.

            Wind farms kill relatively few bats and birds. There have been a few “Oops” installations that have led to changes in where turbines are installed and how they are used. If you want to protect birds and bats then turn your efforts toward the real killers.

            Yes, a very, very small number of turbines have been installed too close to people’s houses. I’d guess less than 0.01% of turbines have been poorly sited. Again, largely an “Oops” event which, for the most part, is no longer happening. But, realistically, this is a zoning problem and not a wind energy problem.

            Most turbines are being installed on farms and ranches – not “open land”. The DOE did a careful review of our open spaces and set aside the most beautiful, the most unique, and the most ecological important. What open space land that is used for wind and solar will be less important land. And as we install wind and solar we will decrease the really destructive extraction of fossil fuels from these lands. (Worry about the off-road vehicles. They are the real destroyers of open spaces.)

            First half of 2012 the US got 3.5% of its electricity from wind. That means that we lowered CO2-producing fossil fuel usage by 3.5%. As time goes along we will get larger and larger amounts of our electricity from wind and solar and burn less fossil fuels.

            Take this free gift of facts and please rethink your position. We’re all concerned about the environment and the preservation of a living planet. There are no 100% non-harmful, totally green solutions. The intelligent route away from danger is to select the least damaging path.

  • ab

    Here’s a report on one study that puts paid to the lie that wind turbine don’t reduce GHG emissions…A Google search will reveal many others…

    If there was ever an industry that relied on “crony capiitalism” it’s the oil & gas industry…

    • Venture Guy

      would like to discuss the thousands of raptors killed? Or the people driven from their houses? Or the damage to the grid from such a random generating source? The destruction of mile after mile of open space? Or that SO2 and NO2 increase because of the fluctuation of wind…note wind works about 10%to 30% of the time, so you still require a real power system working as well(pretty costly have 2 or 3 power systems …what is your plan for the other? Efficiency projects are TEN TIMES more cost effect and don’t require billions going to GE, Buffet and Goldman in the form of tax credits? Of course no one is pushing efficiency as Billions don’t go into lobbyists and their companies pockets who come up with these SHAM facts. Currently 10% of the Golden Eagle population is killed by WIND TURBINES EVERY YEAR in Cailfornia!!! Millions of other birds and bats die from wind turbines every year…and it only gets worse. A study of a Industrial Wind Turbines in NJ shows them each KILLING 75 birds and bats every year. Raptors being especially hard his. Give us the example of crony capitalism that you speak of? As next year renewables gets to gorge on almost $80 Billion dollars, much of that going to china, india, denmark and such.

      • Bob_Wallace

        No, I would not like to discuss your BS.

        How about we discuss the almost billion dollars we spend each day to deal with coal pollution?

        How about we discuss with the real killers of birds – cats, buildings, cars, etc.?

        How about we discuss the enormous subsidies that coal and oil have received for 100 years and yet their prices keep increasing? (Solar and wind have received subsidies in much smaller amount and for only 30 years. The price of both solar and wind have massively fallen.)

        Please. Learn some facts or take your misinformation elsewhere. This site is not tinfoil hat friendly.

  • noturbine

    INDUSTRIAL WIND TURBINES ARE A SHAM AND DO NOT PROVIDE “CLEAN RENEWABLE ENERGY!” Not one coal or gas plant the world over has been decommissioned because of IWTs…and eliminating our dependence on fossil fuels is their whole purpose. To quote an expert: “Because wind blows intermittently, electric utilities must either keep their conventional power plants running all the time to make sure the lights don’t go dark, or continually ramp up and down the output from conventional coal-or gas-fired generators (called “cycling”). But coal-fired and gas-fired generators are designed to run continuously, and if they don’t, fuel consumption and emissions generally increase.” This is happening worldwide, and in places like Colorado and Texas where CO2 and power plant pollution have increased since installing wind farms:–cost-of-green-energy
    The wind industry is built on crony capitalism, it is the only way it can exist. Taxpayer money builds them and power companies are mandated to buy wind generated power at much higher rates than conventionally produced power. There is no true benefit, except to wind power companies, politicians and lobbyists. As a result, get ready to pay a lot more on your electric bills if offshore wind proliferates.

    • ab

      Hogwash…and crony capitalism? Pls, evidently you aren’t familiar with the politics, or political economy of oil, coal and natural gas…

      • Venture Guy

        ab give us the number of crony capitalism for oil and Coal? Next year for renewables is more than $80 Billion. Last I recall oil, coal and nat gas are TAXED and produce revenue! Wind and Solar are so good even warren buffet and Goldman buy them as the cash and write off are great….they produce little energy when you need it and harm the electric grid!

        • ab

          You’ve got to be kidding…Look at the history of federal support for oil and gas over the past sixty-odd years…Where have you been?

          • ab

            Let’s not even go into perhaps the most striking example…the GW Bush administration’s energy plans…

    • Bob_Wallace

      Well, you’re wrong about no coal plants being closed.

      You’re right that utilities use gas cycling plants to fill in around wind and solar. Of course all those hours that we’re getting power from wind and solar we’re not burning fossil fuels and adding more CO2 to the atmosphere.

      You’re wrong about gas plants being designed to run all the time. GE builds a gas turbine specifically designed to fill in for variable renewables.

      You’re wrong about the wind industry being built on crony capitalism. If that were the case then wind wouldn’t have to fight for the modest subsidies it receives. The governors of wind-producing states wouldn’t have to lobby Congress to extend the PTC for wind. Notice how the same is not true for oil and coal?

      You’re partially correct about offshore wind being more expensive when we first start to install. New technology is almost always more expensive and then falls in price as it matures.

      What you don’t seem to realize is how expensive coal actually is. We pay a fortune in tax dollars and health insurance premiums because of coal pollution. Coal is more expensive, if we do accurate accounting, than any other energy generation technology. That includes solar and offshore wind.

      We will likely experience a small upturn in electricity prices as we transition off fossil fuels. Most of us will see little, if any, change to our utility bills. At the same time as switching to renewables we are making our homes and businesses much more energy efficient. We’ll use less and that will offset the temporary rise in kWh costs.

      Further along, our electricity costs will be lower. Solar panels and wind turbines will get paid off in 20 years and then give us another 20, 30 or more years of almost free electricity.

    • Bob_Wallace

      ” Not one coal or gas plant the world over has been decommissioned because of IWTs…”

      How wrong you are…

      “Ontario, Canada’s most populous province with a population equivalent to Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales combined, has decided to abandon coal-fired electricity a year ahead of schedule.

      “The early closure is a result of Ontario’s strong conservation efforts, a smarter electricity grid and a diverse supply of cleaner energy,” Dalton McGuinty, Ontario’s Premier said. “Shutting down the last coal plants in Southern Ontario will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save the province $ CAN95 million (€72.4 million).””

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