NORFOLK, Va. – Dominion Energy Virginia announced on Friday a venture to build two wind turbines in federal waters 27 miles off Virginia’s coast, with the Denmark-based energy company Ørsted.
The development would be Virginia’s first offshore wind facility and the nation’s second commercial-scale offshore installation, following one off the coast of Block Island, RI, operational since 2015.
The Virginia’s State Corporation Commission (SCC) will need to approve the plan to build the two 6-megawatt turbines and grid infrastructure needed to connect the facility to the coast.
The offshore project will be developed on 2,135 acres of federal waters leased by the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy. The two turbines will sit in about 80 feet of water and rise over 550 feet above the ocean’s surface – but will not be visible from the Virginia Beach shoreline.
If given approval, the facility is expected to begin generating emissions-free energy for customers by December 2020. The project could pave the way for 2,000 more megawatts of carbon-free generation in the adjacent 112,000 acre wind energy lease area – enough energy to power about half a million homes, according to Dominion.
Ørsted, hired by Dominion Energy to build the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Project (CVOW), announced that a research vessel will conduct the final ocean floor mapping needed before construction can begin.
Gov. Ralph Northam, along with Dominion Energy leaders, the president of Ørsted North America and local leaders met in Norfolk on Friday to tour the ocean-mapping vessel, temporarily docked at the maritime museum Nauticus.
“Today’s announcement further affirms our commitment to a new era of clean, renewable energy for the Commonwealth,” said Thomas F. Farrell, II, Dominion Energy’s chairman, president and chief executive officer.
Gov. Northam applauded the first step of the project and emphasized the economic benefits of the industry.
“The 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.
Ørsted is considered a premier offshore wind power developer with over 1,000 offshore wind turbines installed and operating around the world, according to an official press release.
The $300 million project will be funded through existing base rates, enabled by the Grid Transformation & Security Act. Contingent on various regulatory approvals, onshore construction would start in 2019, followed by turbine installation and operation in 2020.
In July 2018, the Grid Transformation & Security Act became law, declaring offshore wind to be in the public interest. Passed overwhelmingly by the Virginia General Assembly, the comprehensive energy reform legislation paves the way for a smarter, stronger and greener energy grid.
In conjunction with Dominion Energy’s filing for regulatory approval of the first phase of its Grid Transformation Plan in Virginia, the company committed last month to have 3,000 megawatts of new solar and wind, enough to power 750,000 homes, under development or in operation in Virginia by the beginning of 2022.
Dominion Energy’s solar fleet is the sixth largest in the nation. And with more than 3,300 megawatts of renewable energy resources either operational or under development across 10 states, the company is an industry leader in renewable energy.