On October 12, 2010, Google, Trans-Elect Development Company, LLC (“Trans-Elect”), Good Energies, and Marubeni Corporation (“Marubeni”) announced that the four entities are partnering to create the Atlantic Wind Connection project.  The Atlantic Wind Connection project will create an underwater transmission “backbone” to connect more than 6,000 MW of offshore wind through more than 350 miles of high voltage direct current (“HVDC”) lines.  The final project will run from the Mid-Atlantic to New York, and the lines will be buried approximately 15-20 miles offshore.

Once completed the Atlantic Wind Connection will be the first undersea line that would gather wind energy from various generation projects along the coast.  The project is designed to relieve congestion in a National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor, and the project will stretch from New York City down to Virginia and will connect to new HVDC infrastructure in New Jersey and Virginia.

Trans-Elect, a Maryland transmission company, first proposed this venture, and Google and Good Energies, a renewable energy investment firm, will both take a 37.5 percent equity share in the project, which might equal an initial investment of $200 million each.  Marubeni is a Japanese trading company, and it will own 15 a percent share of the project.  The entire project is expected to cost $5 billion.

Trans-Elect hopes to begin construction in 2013, and the project will be completed in five phases.  The first phase will build a $1.3 billion line from New Jersey to Delaware, close to a proposed Bluewater Wind Delaware LLC 450 MW offshore wind project.  After that, the project will connect with the east terminus of a recently approved PJM Interconnection transmission project by Pepco Holdings Inc.

The announcement of this project stands in juxtaposition of proposals from Midwestern developers aimed at moving large quantities of Midwestern wind from West to East.  The potential competition between West to East onshore transmission lines with this project complicates the debate on transmission expansion in the United States.  As a final note, it is unclear whether this project will create any issues with respect to naval installations and potentially sensitive offshore or coastal military installations. 

A copy of the press release for the Atlantic Wind Connection project is available here.