Offshore wind getting some backbone

Google and a renewable electricity investment company are investing in an offshore, 350-mile long high-voltage transmission line off the coast of New Jersey, with spurs making landfall in Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, and just outside of New York City. Each company is in it for about $200 million, which is about 75% of the total investment.

New transmission lines aren’t normally all that noteworthy, and there are already some undersea power cables along the Atlantic Coast. But this promises to be different in a major way: offshore wind projects will be able to connect directly to this line, instead of each one running a connector back to land. Google and Good Energies (the other developer) have made a bet that an enormous (6,000 MW) backbone will enable many offshore wind developers to build without having to negotiate through quite so complicated an electricity grid as per normal. Sounds like a pretty solid bet to me.

Hidden about two thirds of the way through the above-linked NYTimes article is an interesting tidbit regarding regionalism in power production and clean energy: Governors of Northeastern states are on record opposing high-voltage transmission lines from the Midwest, where wind resources are enormous but underdeveloped, that could bring tons of clean energy to the Northeast. In other words, some local governments oppose the importation of clean energy from outside their borders because they want the business, taxes, and jobs that come along with that development to stay local.

Look, any governor taking this position is obviously trying to protect their local interests, something for which I can’t really blame them. After all, it’s the same tactic used by elected officials from states endowed with large fossil fuel reserves – defending their own economies with little regard to the larger whole. The sad result of all this localism and regionalism is that important renewable energy resources are grossly under-developed in this country. Building up the Atlantic offshore transmission grid is as important to me in California as it is to my friends in New Jersey. We’re all going to need to work as a coast to coast team to really transform our nation’s energy profile.

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tim

1 Comment

  1. Ed - November 9, 2010

    One of the principles of a republican (in the public) form of government is that We The People elect representatives who will do what’s best for most of the people. In theory I’m willing to give up a bit of what might be best for me because overall it’s best for everyone.
    When was the last time you heard a politician promise that, if elected, he or she would do that? How likely that that person would get more votes than you can count on two hands?
    Stupid, short-sighted provincialism is going to sink us all.

  2. George Perez Sr. - January 13, 2011

    It is my belief that Utility companys need to stop the propaganda of insulting residential customers with the usual stop leaks in your homes save big money etc…
    Start working with customers and offer solar energy equipment packages for residential homes to offset and really lower costs of energy consumption without adding carbon to the enviroment.
    George Perez Sr.

  3. George Perez Sr. - January 13, 2011

    It is my belief that Utility companys need to stop the propaganda of insulting residential customers with the usual stop leaks in your homes save big money etc…
    Start working with customers and offer solar energy equipment packages for residential homes to offset and really lower costs of energy consumption without adding carbon to the enviroment.
    George Perez Sr.

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