Offshore wind power has generated its fair share of buzz in recent years as a vast, untapped well of renewable power. Most of that publicity reflects the controversy surrounding offshore development proposed for the Atlantic coast, as proponents square off against environmentalists and property owners worried about intrusion on coastal views. Garnering less attention have been the lines that would transmit the power once those wind farms are developed. One such proposal has been quietly humming through the bureaucratic process.

In May, the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced that a proposal for a massive transmission line had cleared a very important preliminary hurdle. The agencies announced a finding of “no competitive interest” for the project, meaning no other developers had expressed an interest in constructing transmission facilities in the same area. With that negative finding, the project is now clear to advance to its next bit of red tape, an environmental review, which is necessary before the developer, Atlantic Grid Holdings LLC, may be granted a project right-of-way.

The proposed mid-Atlantic offshore wind energy transmission line is described as a “backbone” line that would be integral to any offshore development. It will be a high-voltage, direct-current subsea transmission system that could collect power generated by wind turbine facilities off the coast of five Atlantic states. New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia would benefit from the project.

As the first such proposal in the country, its parallel, redundant circuits would total about 790 miles in length. A right-of-way would be granted for a 200-foot-wide corridor centered on the cable, with additional widths at the hubs. The line would have a carrying capacity of 7,000 megawatts of power generated from offshore turbines.