Dominion Wants to Build America’s Largest Offshore Wind Project

Sept. 19, 2019, 1:12 PM; Updated: Sept. 19, 2019, 3:26 PM

Dominion Energy has taken a significant step in its plans to build commercial-scale offshore wind turbines.

The Virginia-based power company filed interconnect agreements for a proposed three-phase, 2,640-megawatt project running from 2024 through 2026, Mark Mitchell, the company’s vice president for generation construction, announced Sept. 19.

The company plans to bring online 880 megawatts of generation during each of the three years, he said.

When the project is completed, it will generate enough electricity to power more than 650,000 homes during peak wind periods.

If approved by regulators, the commercial scale project will have roughly 220 turbines about 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach in an area the utility is leasing from the federal government.

A wind farm of that size would be the largest in the U.S. and follows a surge in project development, as states from North Carolina to Maine see the renewable technology as a pivotal piece of meeting their climate goals.

More than 20 gigawatts of offshore wind are planned for an emerging industry that could be worth $70 billion over a decade.

Mitchell’s announcement, made at an industry conference in Norfolk, Va., comes days after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) released a clean energy plan that seeks to accelerate large-scale offshore wind projects.

The utility previously announced that it plans to invest more than $1 billion in offshore wind by 2023. While it’s more expensive to build than most other types of generation, offshore wind has the advantage of being located near power-hungry cities along the coast and among steadier breezes than land-based installations.

Federal Review

Dominion’s move to push forward offshore wind project development also follows a recent federal government decision to extend review of a project off the coast of Massachusetts.

The Interior Department’s decision to further study the environmental impacts of the Vineyard Wind project in the Northeast wasn’t going to change Dominion’s plans to move forward with their projects, Mitchell told Bloomberg Environment.

Dominion has already begun a pilot project with a pair of 6-megawatt wind turbines, and has the only fully permitted offshore wind project in federal waters, he said.

For the larger scale project, “the stakeholder input, and the impact studies, and the environmental studies that we will be doing on that commercial project will largely be similar to what was done on this demonstration project, so we expect to be able leverage a lot of that, and we don’t expect to have a lot of issues getting fed approval,” he said.

—With assistance from Christopher Martin (Bloomberg).

(Updates with additional projects beginning in the sixth paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew M. Ballard in Raleigh, N.C. at aballard@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory Henderson at ghenderson@bloombergenvironment.com; Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloombergenvironment.com

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