The Atlantic Wind Connection
backbone transmission project is led by well-established independent transmission company Trans-Elect
, with Atlantic Grid Development
as the project developer and Google
, Bregal Energy
, Marubeni Corporation
Markian Melnyk became aware of the need for an offshore transmission backbone while writing “Offshore Power” in 2009. He recognized that transmission was a key piece in building a robust offshore wind industry in the U.S. Yet the transmission grid that currently serves the east coast is already congested, and siting new transmission lines on land would face significant hurdles. An offshore “backbone” would not only be easier to site, but would bring multiple benefits, including lowering the cost of offshore wind projects.
Bob Mitchell, now CEO of Atlantic Wind Connection, credits Melnyk with seeing the opportunity in developing the transmission project, taking the initiative and having the courage to take on a project so ambitious in scope. But Mitchell himself, along with Trans-Elect partners Marty Walicki and Paul McCoy, studied the concept and concluded to accept the offer from Melnyk and Eli Farrah to have Trans-Elect lead the development effort. Melnyk had already lined up Ken Epp and Mohammed El-Gasseir, engineers with experience in direct current transmission, as well as his colleague Eli Farrah, now a lawyer at Winston and Strawn, who had transmission regulatory experience. What they needed was a company that had actually developed transmission lines. Bob Mitchell and his partners brought that to the table. Their company, Trans-Elect, is the first independent transmission company in the U.S., with several major projects already completed.
With Trans-Elect on board, Melnyk and his partners had everything they needed but money. Trans-Elect lead that effort. One investor was recruited at a Macquarie Bank energy conference in Vail, Colorado, when Mitchell went skiing during a break and started chatting with a fellow skier on a chair lift. He turned out to be John Breckenridge, managing director of Good Energies, a renewable energy venture fund in North America
Good Energies (now Bregal Energy) eventually joined Marubeni, a Japanese investment firm and Google who had already expressed interest in the project. Recently, the Belgian transmission company Elia joined the development founders as an equity partner, bringing its own substantial experience as well as capital.
About Atlantic Grid Development
Markian Melnyk developed the Atlantic Wind Connection concept while researching “Offshore Power,” his book on offshore renewable energy.
Melnyk was joined by Ken Epp and Mohamed El-Gassier, industry leaders in high-voltage direct current transmission at DC Interconnect; Eli Farrah, an expert in transmission regulation at Winston & Strawn; and Robert Mitchell, Paul McCoy and Marty Walicki, principals of Trans-Elect, a successful and experienced independent transmission company.
These are the founders of Atlantic Grid Development, LLC, the project’s developer.
Since 1999, Trans-Elect, the nation’s first independent transmission company has been a leader in several innovative projects including acquisition of 5,400 miles of transmission lines in Michigan and 7,200 miles of lines in Alberta, Canada. Trans-Elect, PG&E and the US Department of Energy’s Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) formed a partnership to build 83 miles of transmission in California for the Path 15 project that successfully overcame deficiencies contributing to the state’s 2000-01 rolling blackouts.
Trans-Elect and Path 15 were awarded “Infrastructure Deal of the Year for the Americas” by Project Finance International magazine.
For more information, please visit www.trans-elect.com
Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, DC Interconnect, Inc. (DCI) specializes in the development and systematic integration of advanced High-Voltage Direct-Current (HVDC) transmission technology to facilitate access to new resources, increase transmission capacity and transfer capability in existing power grids, improve the efficiency of the operation of electricity markets and prevent regional blackouts.
DCI holds a patent on the optimal integration of HVDC technology with large grids.
DCI was founded by Dr. Mohamed M. El-Gasseir and H. D. Kenneth Epp in 2002.
For more information, please visit www.dcinterconnections.com
About Winston & Strawn LLP
Eli Farrah is Project Counsel and partner at Winston & Strawn LLP, an international law firm with nearly 1,000 attorneys among 15 offices in Beijing, Charlotte, Chicago, Geneva, Hong Kong, Houston, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, New York, Newark, Paris, San Francisco, Shanghai, and Washington, D.C. Eli represents transmission owners, developers, lenders and investors with respect to all issues affecting electric transmission projects and facilities.
For more information, please visit www.winston.com