Posted on January 31, 2024
Richmond-based Dominion Energy has earned the final two federal approvals needed to move forward with the construction and operation of its $9.8 billion, 176-turbine offshore wind farm 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management granted final approval of the construction plan for the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) project, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued its permit to allow for permitted impacts to U.S. waters.
Construction on the turbines and three offshore substations in a nearly 113,000-acre area is expected to begin in May.
Once fully constructed in late 2026, the Fortune 500 electric utility’s wind turbines will produce 2.6 gigawatts of energy, which would power about 660,000 homes.
“Virginia is leading the way for offshore wind as we near the start of offshore construction for Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind,” Bob Blue, Dominion Energy’s chair, president and CEO, said in a statement. “These regulatory approvals keep CVOW on time and on budget as we focus on our mission of providing customers with reliable, affordable and increasingly clean energy.”
The project will be the nation’s largest offshore wind farm and aligns with a state mandate that Dominion Energy go carbon-free by 2045.
Dominion submitted the construction and operations plan in December 2020 and then updated it in June 2021, October 2021, December 2021, May 2022, February 2023, July 2023 and September 2023, according to BOEM. In her letter informing Dominion of approval, Karen Baker, chief of the bureau’s Office of Renewable Energy Programs, writes that Dominion must submit annual reports certifying compliance with conditions of approval annually, beginning Jan. 31, 2025.
Some onshore construction began in November 2023 following BOEM’s favorable record of decision in October 2023. At that time, Dominion earned approvals from the National Environmental Policy Act review process and the Department of the Interior for its construction and operations plan.
Construction will ramp up with the final approvals, and initial offshore construction activities related to the export cable and monopile foundation installation is expected to begin in the second quarter.
In mid-October 2023, the first eight monopiles, the foundation posts for the massive wind turbines, arrived at Portsmouth Marine Terminal, and since then, another eight have been delivered and a third batch is en route. The monopiles, which are each about 272 feet long — about the length of a football field — and 31 feet in diameter, will be driven into the seabed. Each turbine, when fully assembled, will be 836 feet high.
In late September 2023, BOEM announced it completed its environmental assessment of the project, a little more than two years after the review began.
Dominion is already operating two wind turbines off the Virginia Beach coast as part of a pilot project. The company said that more than 750 Virginia-based workers, about 530 of whom are in Hampton Roads, are working on the project or with businesses supporting it. Another 1,000 jobs are expected to be created to operate and maintain the turbines.
“In an important step forward, we are thrilled to see the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project receive two major approvals that will place the nation’s largest offshore wind farm right off the coast of Virginia,” U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine and U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott said in a joint statement. “The progress on this project to date speaks volumes about the level of cooperation between the Biden administration, the commonwealth of Virginia and Dominion Energy and their commitment to the future of green energy in the commonwealth. We look forward to continuing to work together to see this project through to the finish line.”