Transmission-Related Policy Options to Facilitate Offshore Wind in the Great Lakes (2011)

Client Organization: 
Great Lakes Commission
Project Location : 
Ann Arbor, MI though research will be conducted for the entire Great Lakes Basin
Secondary Client Organization: 
Great Lakes Wind Collaborative
Summary of Project Idea: 

This project focuses on identifying when transmission will be a barrier for the development of offshore wind in the Great Lakes and explaining why it is a barrier in certain situations. The project examines the costs, technical aspects, planning and siting procedures, and environmental impacts of building transmission. This project presents and analyzes select policy options to address these transmission-related barriers to offshore wind development in the Great Lakes. These policy options are informed by a literature review, a stakeholder and key interview process, and quantitative and spatial analyses. The project team interviewed over twenty professionals working on transmission issues, including transmission companies, electrical utility companies, wind developers, government agencies, environmental organizations, academics, and others.

Skills/Expertise Needed: 
  • Solid Understanding of Federal and State Environmental Policy
  • Understanding of Great Lakes Ecosystem Dynamics
  • Dual degree or mastery in the fields of Business and/or Law Background
  • Knowledge of wind energy (in particular offshore) and/or transmission systems
  • Engineering background helpful
SEAS Program Areas: 
Environmental Policy and Planning
Sustainable Systems
Professional Career Development Benefits: 

Students will learn to formulate and share concrete policy options for an emerging field of great interest. Along with access to the expertise of the Great Lakes Commission staff, students will also have the opportunity to interact with offshore wind and transmission leaders in government and the nonprofit and private sectors during the course of gathering research and developing the end deliverables.

Since there is very little research on offshore transmission in freshwater areas, the students will be producing novel research and their work will help pave the way for future developments in this area.

Students will have the opportunity to present their findings through either poster presentations or panel sessions at various conferences and meetings such as the Great Lakes Wind Collaborative Annual Meeting, the American Wind Energy Association Wind Power Meeting, or the Canadian Wind Energy Association Meeting.

Students will also be invited to speak with members of the Great Lakes Wind Collaborative's Offshore Wind and Regional Transmission Workgroups during the course of the development and completion of their project.

Funding Sources: 

Potential funding through the Great Lakes Wind Collaborative and its Offshore Wind and/or Regional Transmission Workgroups.

Identify expected products/deliverables: 
  1. Report on economic, social, environmental impacts of possible transmission scenarios for offshore wind
  2. Policy options and siting principles document
  3. Collection of GIS data and development of a GIS map which allows users to determine better/worse locations to lay transmission lines in the Great Lakes
  4. Poster presentation on transmission of offshore wind
  5. Outreach or informational materials for wind stakeholders

The end products and deliverables will be presented to and used by members of the GLWC's offshore and transmission workgroups especially those who represent the state regulatory agencies, federal permitting agencies, ISOs, and developers.

The materials may also be posted on the GLWC Offshore Wind Workgroup or Transmission Workgroup wiki sites at and

Final Report: Click here to view final report.

Ann Arbor
State or Country: 
SEAS Faculty Advisor: 
David Allan
Contact Phone: 
Contact e-mail: 
Master Students Involved in Project: 
  • Aaron Batchman, MSE/MS Engineering Sustainable Systems      
  • Arvind Balachander, MUP Transportation Planning/MS Sustainable Systems                       
  • Catharine Gustafson, MS Environmental Policy and Planning/Sustainable Systems           
  • James Mulligan, MAE/MS Environmental Policy and Planning                                     
  • Matt Segraves, MS Sustainable Systems
Dr. Dave Ewert, TNC, Director of Conservation Science, E-mail: dewert@TNC.ORG
Project Status: 
Past Project