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Virginia offshore wind project approved while others falter

Joe Biden

Posted on November 7, 2023

(The Center Square) — The Biden administration announced its approval of the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind commercial project – the country’s largest – amidst significant challenges to projects in other states.

The $9.8 billion project will install 176 800-foot wind turbines almost 30 miles off the shore of Virginia Beach, which, at peak winds, can power up to 660,000 homes. After receiving a few more necessary green lights, Dominion Energy looks to begin construction sometime in 2024 and finish in 2026.

That’s if all goes according to plan.

The same day Virginia’s approval was announced, New Jersey’s offshore wind contractor also made an announcement: It’s pulling out of the Garden State’s Ocean Wind 1 and 2 projects due to unsustainable project costs and supply chain issues amounting to a shortfall of $4 billion, despite having been granted a $1 billion tax credit from the state.

New York began construction on an offshore wind project in August that’s one of three for the state, but last month, Gov. Kathy Hochul vetoed an offshore wind transmission planning bill – coming “dangerously close to serving a death knell” for the industry in New York, according to the American Clean Power Association. A state commission rejected developers’ petition to adjust contracts to cover project costs.

Avangrid, one of the offshore wind developers for Connecticut’s Revolution Wind project, has also filed settlements to re-bid its contracts for the same reasons.

New Jersey’s offshore wind developer, Ørsted, installed one of the U.S.’s two operating domestic offshore wind farms off the coast of Rhode Island’s Block Island. The Block Island farm has five turbines. Ørsted has been contracted for all of the country’s approved offshore wind projects except Virginia’s, in addition to Maryland’s Skipjack Wind project, which has yet to receive approval from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

America’s other operating wind farm is the two turbines Dominion Energy has piloted that will be part of the approved Virginia project.

Dominion received approval in 2022 from the State Corporation Commission for a monthly $14 rate increase to consumers over the entire 30-35-year lifetime of Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind.

The project is a result of former Gov. Ralph Northam’s goal, enshrined in 2020’s Virginia Clean Economy Act, that Virginia rely on 100% clean energy by 2050, and part of President Joe Biden’s plan for reaching his stated goal that domestic offshore wind farms supply 30,000 megawatts of power by 2030. The commonwealth’s farm will provide up to 2,600 megawatts.

Though Gov. Glenn Youngkin has taken issue with the state’s clean energy timeline, he has also voiced support for the project, as he sees it as emblematic of his “all of the above” energy plan (which is simply a vision for the commonwealth’s energy strategy, much of which has not been passed into law).

Youngkin and other state and local officials attended a ceremony celebrating the arrival of the first eight monopile foundations from Germany at the Port of Virginia on Friday.


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