Atlantic Wind Connection CEO: No conflict between AWC’s backbone transmission, developers’ plans

Atlantic Wind Connection CEO Robert Mitchell sees no conflict in offshore wind developers proposing individual transmission plans, even as his company’s proposed backbone transmission project moves forward.

Speaking on a transmission panel Oct. 13 at the American Wind Energy Association Offshore Windpower 2011 Conference & Exhibition in Baltimore, Md., Mitchell said all of the wind developers should plan for their own wind farms to reach shore, but they will have an option, namely the proposed Atlantic Wind Connection project, led by Trans-Elect Development Company and involving Google, Good Energies and Marubeni Corporation.

That project, when complete, will be able to connect up to 7,000 MW of offshore wind, according to the project’s website.

“[T]hey still have to have their own plan because they cannot get financing for their farms if they don’t have a plan in place,” Mitchell said. “If for some reason the AWC backbone didn’t materialize, they have to have a plan, so we don’t see the fact that they are planning to be in conflict with what we’re doing.”

At some time in early 2014, there will be a confluence of development as both Atlantic Wind Connection and the wind farms work toward their respective permits and get ready to go to construction, he said.

“[W]hen that confluence reaches together, then they will be able to make a decision … that the backbone makes sense for them, or it doesn’t make sense for them,” he said. “We have the belief that there are any number of reasons why it will make sense and that ultimately, the backbone will be the choice that people will make, including regulators, utilities and the wind developers.”

One offshore wind energy developer that has transmission proposals in the works is Deepwater Wind.

The company is working on the Submarine Regional Transmission Line, a high-voltage transmission system connecting a planned offshore wind farm to New York and northern New Jersey. It is also working on the regional offshore transmission network, the New England-Long Island Interconnector, which will connect the company’s proposed Deepwater Wind Energy Center to southern New England and eastern Long Island, N.Y.

Speaking on the same panel, Clint Plummer, vice president of development with Deepwater Wind, said from a market perspective, the cost of offshore wind power is the greatest challenge for the industry going forward today.

“[A]s an industry, we need to be focused on driving down the cost of offshore wind power so that our customers can have a product that’s attractive,” he said.

Plummer also noted that there have been a lot of technology developments over the last decade that have changed what the projects look like. “Most of those technologies have evolved so that larger projects are now not only feasible, but also very advantageous,” he said.

Among other things, Plummer said that the right transmission solution depends on the market being served.

Another speaker, Sven-Erik Borresen, segment director of transmission and distribution with DNV, told TransmissionHub that while the U.S. offshore wind industry is still immature, it has grown a lot in the past 10 years.

Main issues to work on, he said, include training crews on how to handle cables and improving communication and management within the projects.  

DNV is a global provider of risk management services.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 2807 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 13 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at corinar@pennwell.com.