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Announcing the shortlist of companies vying to own and run the high voltage transmission lines that will connect nine offshore wind farms to the National Grid, regulator Ofgem said that there had been "strong competition".
Six companies – Balfour Beatty, Dong Energy, Green Energy Transmission, Macquarie Capital Group, National Grid and Transmission Capital Partners – were named on the lists.
The eventual winners will finance, design and build undersea cables to transport about 2GW of electricity before adding it to the grid's onshore power supply.
Alistair Buchanan, Ofgem's chief executive, said: "The strong competition for the first round of transmission links demonstrates the value of attracting new entrants and shows that firms have confidence in the tendering process and are willing to make a substantial investment."
Ofgem also announced that the European Investment Bank was considering making more than £300 million available for the first tender.