With proposals pending to install giant turbines to generate wind power in the Atlantic Ocean a transmission company announced Thursday a 20-year plan to bring transmission ashore without splaying a mass of power cables along the bottom of the ocean.
Anbaric, a Wakefield, Mass.-based company that specializes in early stage development of large-scale electric transmission systems and storage solutions, filed an application with the U.S. Department of the Interior proposing non-exclusive rights-of-way to develop the "southern New England OceanGrid," an offshore transmission system intended to boost the region's offshore wind resources. It's proposing corridors through which cables would bring power to Connecticut and elsewhere in southern New England.
"A planned grid approach makes sense," said Peter Shattuck, Anbaric's vice president for distributed energy. "The desire is to not have cables snaking willy nilly across the ocean floor."
The transmission network on the outer continental shelf would link wind lease areas using a common system and deliver power to the on-shore grid. Anbaric touts greater efficiency, improved reliability, less of an environmental impact and the ability to direct the energy to specific areas. The Southern New England OceanGrid would be developed in phases and anticipates an offshore transmission network connecting up to 16,000 megawatts of offshore wind to Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Three companies have submitted plans to harness wind that would be generated east of Massachusetts and north of Long Island. Vineyard Wind is seeking to build a 400-megawatt project and options to develop projects that will generate 800 megawatts, 1,000 megawatts and 1,200 megawatts tied to Bridgeport.
1/4 u00d8rsted, an energy company based in Denmark, and Eversource also are bidding to generate wind power off southeastern Connecticut in a project known as Constitution Wind that will have the capacity to power up to 500,000 homes.
A third company, Mayflower Wind, a joint venture of Shell New Energies and EDPR Offshore North America, also has submitted bids for its planned offshore wind farm to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
Shattuck said the second phase of the work - following the earlier stage of companies designated for power generation - is building out a "ready made grid connection." Anbaric proposes to bring power ashore at Bridgeport and Waterford and build a $250 million converter station converting power that would be distributed on the power grid.
Costs over the 20-year period are expected to be in the billions of dollars, Shattuck said.
Wind farm developers have "gotten the industry off to a good start," but a grid would minimize conflict and establish a reliable offshore transmission system, said Edward N. Krapels, Anbaric's chief executive officer.
New England's power mix has undergone a "major shift" to natural gas from from oil and coal since 2000, according to ISO-New England. Natural gas accounted for 49% of electricity production last year, up from 15% in 2000. In the same period, the use of oil dropped to 1% from 22%.
Natural gas is cleaner than oil, but energy policy in New England states are increasingly calling for zero-emissions power, driving up demand for projects generating wind power from the Atlantic Ocean.
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