On March 24, 2015, Va. Gov. Terry McCauliffe’s office announced that the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has awarded Virginia the nation’s first wind-energy research lease in federal waters. Following is an excerpt from the governor’s office’s news release on the lease announcement, then later developments (April 2015; July 2017); and finally some additional sources of information.
Excerpt from Mar. 24, 2015, Governor’s Office News Release (Governor McAuliffe Announces Virginia Awarded First Wind Energy Research Lease)
“…Virginia is the first state in the nation to receive a wind energy research lease in federal waters from the United States Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). … ‘The data collected under this research lease will help us understand the wind potential, weather and other conditions relevant to standing up wind power generation offshore Virginia,’ said BOEM Director Abigail Ross Hopper.
“The Commonwealth applied for the research lease in 2013 and has named Dominion Virginia Power as the designated lease operator. Execution of the 30-year lease is an important step in the project to allow Dominion to construct and operate the Virginia Offshore Wind Technology Advancement Project (VOWTAP), a grid-connected, offshore wind demonstration project consisting of two Alstom 6-megawatt turbines to be located approximately 24 nautical miles east of the Virginia Beach shoreline. The intent of VOWTAP is to demonstrate successful installation and generation of power 24 nautical miles offshore, validate the estimated wind resource potential in the lease area, identify inefficiencies and gaps in offshore wind development, and utilize a previously untested regulatory process established by BOEM.
“The research lease area is adjacent to Dominion’s commercial Wind Energy Area. Data gathered from the two test turbines will support Dominion’s future commercial-scale wind power development by reducing costs, maximizing turbine availability and service life, and minimizing environmental impacts.”
News Articles on Later Developments
April 2015 – Dominion says off-shore wind project could cost far more than expected, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 4/23/15 – On April 23, 2015, Dominion reported to the Virginia Offshore Wind Development Authority that its cost estimate to install the two research turbines is now between $375 and $400 million dollars, and possibly higher due to weather or other factors. Dominion previously had estimate the cost of installation at about $230 million. Approval by the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) is necessary for Dominion to proceed with the project.
July 2017 – Long-anticipated Dominion wind project off Virginia Beach will move forward, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 7/10/17. On July 10, 2017, Dominion announced that is was partnering with Denmark-based Dong Energy (online at http://www.dongenergy.com/en) to place two six megawatt (MW)-capacity test turbines on the Virginia Beach coast by 2020. The pilot project would be the second offshore wind-energy project in the United States, following the Block Island project off the Rhode Island coast that began operating in 2016. Virginia officials have said that the Virginia Beach offshore project could ultimately develop into a 2000-MW facility on over 112,000 acres that Dominion leases from the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
Other Sources of Information
Virginia Offshore Wind Development Authority, online at http://wind.jmu.edu/offshore/vowda/; that Web site has links to several other relevant sources.
Previous Water Center News Grouper post: Virginia Dept. Mines, Minerals and Energy Receives Federal Finding Allowing It to Proceed with Application for Offshore Wind Energy Research Lease, 3/15/13.