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Google-Backed $5 Billion Wind Plan Gets Rate Lowered by U.S.

A Google Inc.-backed project to build a $5 billion undersea power line carrying wind energy along the coast from New York to Virginia won U.S. approval for a 12.59 percent profit, less than the developers requested.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission today granted the return on equity to the Atlantic Wind Connection, a project in which Google of Mountain View, California, owns a 42 percent stake. Atlantic Wind sought 13.58 percent.

“All orders are compromises,” FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff told reporters today after the agency’s monthly meeting. He said Atlantic Wind is an “extremely innovative” project that may reduce grid congestion.

FERC conditioned its approval for Atlantic Wind’s incentives on the project’s inclusion in a transmission expansion plan under consideration by regional electric-grid operator PJM Interconnection LLC of Norristown, Pennsylvania, the agency said in a statement.

“This appears to be very good news,” Elias G. Farrah, a partner in the Washington office of Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP, Atlantic Wind’s counsel, said in an e-mail. He declined further comment until he had seen FERC’s full decision, he said.

Atlantic Wind also is awaiting a U.S. Interior Department permit to build the line on the seabed and would need approval from New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland regulators for its first phase of development, Markian Melnyk, president of Atlantic Grid Development LLC, the project’s developer, said yesterday in a telephone interview.

Virginia, New York

Expansions, which may be complete by 2021, would need approval from regulators in Virginia and New York.

In addition to Google, the world’s biggest Internet-search company, investors in Atlantic Wind Connection include Tokyo-based trading company Marubeni Corp. and Good Energies, a clean-energy investment firm in Zug, Switzerland.

The Maryland Public Service Commission and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association were among groups questioning whether Atlantic Wind’s requested incentives to build the project were too high, according to regulatory filings this year.

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