Northam announces Coastal Virginia offshore wind demonstration project

Dominion Energy is partnering with a Denmark energy company to build the demonstration project, consisting of two 6-megawatt wind turbines approximately 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach

Gov. Ralph Northum and Dominion Energy President and CEO Thomas F. Farrell on board the research vessel that will map out the ocean floor. (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of Dominion Energy)
Gov. Ralph Northam and Dominion Energy President and CEO Thomas F. Farrell on board the research vessel that will map out the ocean floor. (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of Dominion Energy)

NORFOLK— Gov. Ralph Northam announced Friday that Dominion Energy is filing for State Corporation Commission approval to proceed with construction of the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind demonstration project.

Dominion Energy is partnering with Ørsted, a Denmark-based energy company, to build the demonstration project, consisting of two 6-megawatt wind turbines located approximately 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach.

Ørsted has contracted the research vessel Gerry Bordelon to conduct geophysical studies of the proposed site for the project’s two turbines, searching for obstructions on the sea floor that could potentially impede construction activities, according to a news release from the City of Norfolk.

Northam toured the ocean-mapping vessel, which is temporarily docked at the maritime museum Nauticus, with business and government leaders.

“This offshore wind demonstration project will provide critical information to stakeholders and will position Virginia as a leader as we work to attract job opportunities in the offshore wind supply chain and service industries,” Northam said.

It would be the first wind energy construction project in Virginia waters, located on 2,135 acres leased by the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy.

Officials said DMME has the only research lease for offshore renewable energy awarded by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

This research and development project will provide experience in permitting, design, installation, and operations that may be helpful for stakeholders including the military, commercial and recreational interests, and other governmental entities. The information will be directly applicable to future commercial scale development and will help create the expertise that will ultimately lower energy costs, officials said.

The facility is expected to start generating emissions-free energy by 2020.

“Ørsted is the energy supplier in Europe that has come the farthest in the transition to renewable energy, and we are excited to bring our expertise to Virginia,” said Thomas Brostrøm, Ørsted’s North American president. “This project will provide us vital experience in constructing an offshore wind project in the United States and serve as a stepping stone to a larger commercial-scale partnership between our companies in the future. We see the tremendous potential in the Mid-Atlantic for emission-free, renewable wind generation and we are excited to help the Commonwealth in reaping the benefits of wind power.”

The Grid Transformation and Security Act of 2018, which Northam signed in March, established the state legislature’s finding that the offshore wind demonstration project is in the public interest and ensured that Dominion Energy can fund the project using existing base rates with no added cost to ratepayers. Dominion Energy committed to have at least 3,000 megawatts of new solar and wind resources under development or in operation by the beginning of 2022.

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John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.