An ambitious plan to build a transmission line to support electricity-producing wind farms off the East Coast has moved closer to becoming a reality following an Interior Dept. determination that no competitors had come forward with a similar proposal.

If the proposal gains other regulatory approvals, it would be the first project of its kind in the U.S. It could cost more than $5 billion and take 10 years to construct.

Interior's May 14 finding means that its Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is likely to grant the project a right-of-way on the Outer Continental Shelf if it clears a required environmental review, a project spokesman says.

The Atlantic Wind Connection project is a 790-mile-long, high-voltage, direct-current underwater system designed to carry power generated by wind turbines off the coasts of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. The project's developers include Trans-Elect Development Co. LLC, Bethesda, Md., and its investors include Google Inc.; Marubeni Corp., Tokyo; and Brussels-based transmission company Elia.