Virginia just took its first step toward a renewable energy future

Gov. Northam, Dominion Energy Officials and city officials gathered together to break ground on the new Offshore Wind Project. (Southside Daily/Melanie Occhiuzzo)
Gov. Northam, Dominion Energy Officials and city officials gathered together to break ground on the new Offshore Wind Project. (Southside Daily/Melanie Occhiuzzo)

VIRGINIA BEACH — Gov. Ralph Northam, Dominion Energy partners and members from the city and the General Assembly gathered here Monday to mark the ground breaking of the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project.

RELATED STORY: Northam announces Coastal Virginia offshore wind demonstration project

The ground breaking symbolized the installment of a half-mile conduit, which will hold the final stretch of cables connecting the turbines 27 miles off the coast of the city to a company substation near Camp Pendleton, Dominion Energy officials said.

While the wind turbines won’t be visible from the coast, a construction barge will be set up about a half-mile from the coast, said Tom Farrell, Dominion Energy chairman, president and CEO.

The barge will be visible from shore from this month to September.

The wind turbines will not be noticeable from shore once construction is completed in 2020, Farrell said.

While Dominion Energy didn't have a wind turbine for attendees to see, they had posters of what they would look like when finished. (Southside Daily/Melanie Occhiuzzo)
While Dominion Energy didn’t have a wind turbine for attendees to see, they had posters of what they would look like when finished. (Southside Daily/Melanie Occhiuzzo)

This is just the beginning of a project that will facilitate interconnection of the two six-megawatt wind turbines which will power 3,000 homes at peak, Dominion Energy officials said.

Wind is part of a broader effort to deliver renewable energy, including solar, “as we honor our commitment to reduce carbon emissions,” according to Dominion Energy.

Commercial scale offshore wind development would have the potential to power 500,000 homes with more than 2,000 MW of zero-carbon, renewable energy.

Dominion Energy anticipates $1.1 billion in offshore wind investments through 2023, officials added.

“The Virginia offshore wind demonstration project is another powerful example of the commonwealth’s position as a leader in renewable energy,” Northam said. “As the first deployment of commercial-scale offshore wind turbines in federal waters, I am thrilled that Virginia’s project will help determine best practices for future offshore wind construction along the East Coast.”

Other than bringing renewable, clean energy to the state, Northam said most importantly the project will bring jobs to the area.

The Virginia Offshore Wind project was announced two years ago and is the only fully permitted offshore wind project in United States federal waters.

Last November, the State Corporation Commission approved the project and the majority of required permits and approvals have been received, Dominion Energy officials said.

The construction process is on a strict timetable, in order to minimize environmental impacts to the sea bottom and aquatic life. Observers will be present during the offshore construction activities to look for protected species in the area.

If protected species are found within an exclusion zone, work will be stopped, officials said.

To learn more about the Offshore Wind Project, click here.

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