If you build it, they will come. That could be the axiom for a massive wind power transmission project planned offshore of the Mid-Atlantic.

The project, appropriately named the Atlantic Wind Connection (AWC), is premised on the anticipation of a coming boom in offshore wind-power generation and the need to transmit that power back to land. The project’s backers feel strongly, and perhaps not unwisely, that if a backbone transmission project is installed first, it will both encourage and benefit from the subsequent development of the power it is designed to transmit.

The AWC’s self-fulfilling vision rests on some compelling figures for support. It is designed to service Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey, representing a region that is said to offer more than 60,000 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind-development potential. The project itself, whose principal backers include Internet giant Google, will be able to connect up to 7,000 MW of that offshore wind, enough power to serve approximately 1.9 million households.

The project is moving its way through the regulatory process, receiving an important declaration of no competitive interest from the U.S. Department of the Interior in May. More recently, the project touted a new study that underscored its potential as a boon for jobs in the region.
The study, which was prepared by IHS Inc., a Colorado-based global information company, asserts that 7,700 MW of offshore wind in the Mid-Atlantic linked by the Atlantic Wind Connection would create more than 170,000 jobs. Of the total jobs created, 70,000 will be in the manufacturing sector, another 40,000 in the business supply chain, and an additional 50,000 in general by the effect of added economic activity.