A Google-backed project, the Atlantic Wind Connection, cleared the first of many regulatory hurdles yesterday. The U.S. Department of the Interior said that no competitors have an “overlapping competitive interest” and cleared Atlantic Grid Holdings LLC to proceed with an environmental impact study for their underwater power line. The study will analyze and measure the impact that the power line will have on fishing, boating, and oceanic wildlife.
Atlantic Grid is planning to lay a gigantic 380-mile long steel cable under water to transmit energy from offshore wind farms to the East Coast. Once completed, the wind farms will be capable of producing up to 7,000 megawatts of energy. The energy, which is enough to power two million homes, will be produced at offshore wind farms from Virginia to New Jersey. The offshore wind farms are expected to be among the first approved in the United States and will eventually prevent the burning of fossil fuels and provide renewable energy.
Tommy Beaudreau, who is over the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, told reporters the following:
“The governors up and down the East Coast are extraordinarily interested in broadening out their energy portfolio with offshore wind. We have seen a level of engagement and interest by the governors … in getting steel in the water.”
Although receiving the go-ahead to conduct an environmental study is a positive sign, most experts believe the underwater power line will take approximately ten years to complete. Google and several other investors are convinced the project will ultimately be successful and have agreed to provide $5 billion in funding. The investors believe that construction will begin in 2014 and that power transmission will begin in 2017.