Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC) CEO Robert Mitchell said Dominion Resources’ (NYSE:D) suggestion that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) should delay Atlantic Grid Holdings’ right-of-way application because the project has not yet been included in PJM Interconnection’s regional transmission expansion program (RTEP), for instance, “is not a very persuasive argument.”
Dominion said Feb. 21 that the application is premature, given that the project has not been approved by PJM for inclusion in its transmission planning process, nor has it gone through FERC rate proceedings. The company also said BOEM should delay the application pending PJM’s RTEP.
“[T]here is nothing in the legislation or regulations directing BOEM in making such selections that says that they have to hold off until some other entity makes a determination about a project,” Mitchell told TransmissionHub Feb. 28. “The fact is that if every entity had to wait for the other entity, what is already a cumbersome, slow process for approving transmission projects would just grind to a halt.”
He added: “I understand that Dominion is clever enough to understand that and that as a monopoly, they don’t really want to see an independent come along and propose a project, but the fact is that an independent entity has come along and is proposing an exciting new project that’s going to have a profound impact on helping to make offshore wind a reality [in the United States].”
The proposed AWC project will be able to connect up to 7,000 MW of offshore wind when complete. Atlantic Grid Holdings requested a right-of-way grant to develop the HVDC line that would collect power generated by wind turbine facilities off the coasts of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. The project is led by Trans-Elect Development Company and involves Google, Good Energies and Marubeni Corporation.
Mitchell said he expects that BOEM will follow its mandate, evaluate the comments it has requested and make a decision and determination as it should.
The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) said in December 2011 that it has opened a public comment period on the potential environmental effects of the proposed AWC project. DOI also said BOEM is asking whether other developers are interested in constructing transmission facilities in this area in order to determine whether there is overlapping competitive interest.
Mitchell noted that all comments that were submitted to BOEM have been made available and there are no additional comments or expressions of interest that will be coming out in the coming weeks.
“[A]pparently, there have been no expressions of competitive interest,” he said.
He also said that the project’s schedule “is pretty much right on target and is consistent with what the states and the wind farm developers are projecting for the in-service date of wind farms.”