A new $5 billion transmission project proposed by Trans-Elect and sponsored by Google, Good Energies, and Marubeni Corp. seeks to connect 6,000 MW from wind farms installed up to 20 miles off the Mid-Atlantic coast to the national grid.

Using scalable high voltage direct current (HVDC) technology, the Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) will serve as what the investors call a “backbone transmission project.” It will serve a region that offers more than 60,000 MW of offshore wind potential in the relatively shallow waters of the outer continental shelf. It would also help lower construction costs for wind projects while reducing the environmental impacts of building multiple radial lines, they said.

“Without a transmission backbone, offshore wind developers would be forced to bring energy to land via radial lines that can make balancing the region’s existing grid more difficult,” the companies said in a joint release last week. “In addition, a single offshore backbone with a limited number of landfall points will minimize the environmental impacts of building multiple individual radial lines to shore.”

The investors said a filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission later this year would outline details of the project, including how it benefits consumers and businesses by improving power flows across the region. Collaboration on the project is now expected to continue, with developers and officials mapping the optimal path for the line.

To begin construction, AWC will also need approval from about 13 federal, state, regional, and local agencies, as well as from PJM, the region’s grid operator. If all goes well, construction would begin in 2013, with the first phase completed by 2016.

 Sources: AWC, POWERnews