The bidders, who were selected from an initial list of eight, are in the running to own and operate £1.1bn worth of cables from the first 630MW phase of London Array, as well as the 576MW Gwynt y Mor and 250MW Lincs wind farms to the UK mainland (click here for a map of the UK's current and upcoming offshore projects).
The four contenders are:
- Balfour Beatty Equitix consortium (a consortium of Balfour Beatty Capital Ltd and Equitix Ltd)
- Blue Transmission (a consortium of Macquarie Capital Group Ltd, Barclays Infrastructure Funds Management Ltd and Mitsubishi Corporation)
- National Grid Offshore Limited
- Transmission Capital Partners (a consortium of Transmission Capital Partners Ltd and International Public Partnerships Ltd)
The shortlisted companies are bidding to become Offshore Transmission Owners (OFTOs) which will take over ownership of the links and receive a stable, regulated income for 20 years.
Ofgem expects to announce the preferred bidders for the Lincs and London Array (phase 1) projects in autumn 2011. The preferred bidder for Gwynt y Môr will be selected later than the bidders for the other two projects, as construction is not as far advanced.
Ofgem E-Serve’s managing director, commercial, Robert Hull, said: "The variety of firms competing to own these three links shows that the offshore transmission regime has again proved very successful at attracting investment into the offshore wind sector. Competitive tendering will ensure that these wind farms can be connected at a lower cost to customers."
Tenders for a further three projects - Humber Gateway, West of Duddon Sands and Race Bank - are expected to start next spring.