Smart Grid

January 21, 2013

Hoover Dam Builder Hired for Google-Backed Atlantic Wind Connection

Bechtel Group Inc., the U.S. contractor that built the Hoover Dam during the Great Depression of the 1930s, has been hired to work on the first phase of the Atlantic Wind Connection, a major offshore wind project that will generate jobs and deliver electricity to users across New Jersey.

San Francisco-based Bechtel will be the engineering, procurement, and construction provider for the first segment of the New Jersey Energy Link—a $1.8 billion transmission cable buried under the ocean that will connect energy resources to users in northern, central and southern New Jersey. Paris-based Alstom Grid will be the technical advisor on HVDC (high-voltage direct current).

 The innovative transmission project will span the length of New Jersey and greatly expand grid capacity, carrying 3,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity. Bechtel and Alstom join a group that already includes:

  • Project developer Atlantic Grid Development of Chevy Chase, Maryland;
  • Independent transmission company Trans-Elect of Bethesda, Maryland; and
  • Sponsors Google (News - Alert) (Mountain View, California), Bregal Energy (New York City), Marubeni Corporation (Tokyo) and Elia (Brussels).

“Bechtel and Alstom are global leaders in the design and execution of complex power projects and both have successfully completed projects across the globe,” said Robert Mitchell, CEO of the Atlantic Wind Connection. “The quality of these industry leaders is a welcome addition to our team and they will play a significant role in the successful construction of the New Jersey Energy Link.”

What’s more, just as the Hoover Dam project created thousands of jobs when they were badly needed, the New Jersey Energy Link is expected to kick-start the state’s job market by offering 10,000 to 20,000 jobs.

“We are building a landmark high-capacity transmission superhighway that will deliver offshore wind energy to New Jersey using the most advanced technology available today,” said Toby Seay, president of Bechtel’s transmission business line. “Bechtel and Atlantic Wind Connection share a high commitment to hiring and training New Jersey workers for this project.”

And following the damage sustained by New Jersey’s infrastructure during Hurricane Sandy, this project represents an investment in a stronger, more reliable grid, boasting with fewer blackouts, less congestion and lower prices for ratepayers.

“We are very pleased that Alstom’s technical expertise will play an important role in this advanced New Jersey offshore wind energy transmission project,” said Patrick Plas, senior vice president, Alstom Grid. “Based on our proven capability to design, manufacture and supply large HVDC and HVAC projects and equipment worldwide we are confident we can provide the HVDC expertise required by the project. All of the Alstom teams involved in the Atlantic Wind Connection project are concentrated and dedicated to ensuring that the project will be one of the most technologically reliable electric transmission systems in the world and drive the shift to renewable energy in the USA."

 The New Jersey Energy Link is expected to be built in three phases over the course of one decade. Construction will begin in 2016 and the first phase is projected to be in service by 2019.

There are no U.S. offshore wind farms operating or under construction, although companies have been planning to install turbines at sea for more than a decade. The Department of the Interior this year will hold the country’s first competitive lease auction for sites near Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Virginia, and is calling for projects totaling 10,000 MW of capacity to be installed nationwide by 2020.The agency awarded two leases – one in Massachusetts in 2010 as well as in Delaware in October – through non- competitive offers each involving a single company.

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Edited by Allison Boccamazzo