America / Energy / U.S. Domestic Policy

Wind Energy Possibilities for the East Coast

The quest for renewable energy is a very lively aspect to politics and science debate today. This nation is fueled mainly by coal, oil, and gas—converting to sustainable energy options is a policy challenge to say the least. However, the individuals with Atlantic Wind Connection are determined to meet the sustainable energy goals of our time. The Atlantic Wind Connection is a project launched by Trans-Elect, an independent transmission company, the project is being sponsored by a series of large companies including, Google and Bregal Energy. The purpose of AWC is to build subsea transmission connection between wind farms in the Atlantic, which if successful will significantly lower cost of energy transmission, create thousands of jobs, reduce regulatory burdens, as well as expand the scope of reliable wind energy. It is being referred to as the “backbone” of wind energy. Since the line will run along the seabed it is nearly impervious to storms and severe weather. This method of delivering energy could also be used to back up hospitals, police stations etc. in time of emergency.

The project was introduced in 2010; AWC was approved by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management early on. It was defined as not having any “competitive interest”, the uniqueness of the project as well as its good intent, helped it get it past government screening.  Nevertheless, since the project is so new the AWC will need to hurdle bureaucratic obstacles. Currently, Trans-Elect is in the process of submitting approval from the regional grid operator, PJM Interconnection, which assesses cost versus benefit of the project and determines if the overall value of project is worthwhile. As the project moves ahead policy will form around it, as of now it is treading new ground.

Trans-Elect was able to successfully collect deep-pocketed investors such as Google and Good Energies. The chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission overseeing interstate electricity transmission accepted this unique attempt to further wind potential. The first leg of the transmission line will begin in New Jersey and extend to the New York area, a total of 350 miles. Construction will be completed in segments and hopefully be securely financed and well underway in 2015.

Aside from the environmental and crisis management benefits of the transmission line, it would assist New Jersey in achieve its lofty energy goals. By 2021 the state has mandated that 22.5% of energy must come from renewable sources. State policy also requires that at least 1,100 megawatts of energy be from wind specifically, however it is projected that the AWC is projected to facilitate generate 3,000 megawatts. This venture is far more than just the will of this particular company; state and federal governments have supported the cause with relative enthusiasm.

This project is a multibillion-dollar venture with notable job creation prospects. About 70,000 people will be needed to directly operate the equipment and machinery, and about 50,000 jobs should come in the wake of added economic activity. If this project is successful it will make renewable wind energy affordable, reliable and also reduced energy grid congestion. Eager investors have been helping make this very expensive and very promising undertaking a reality. In addition, if the initial cost can be over come job production is projected the increase significantly. The Atlantic Wind Connection is a new and innovative way of delivering energy and has the potential to drastically and profitably change the face of energy on the east coast.

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