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New Virginia Offshore Wind Research Lease – Two Mega Turbines to be Built

RICHMOND – Governor Bob McDonnell issued the following statement following news that the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has made a Determination of No Competitive Interest (DNCI) that will allow the federal bureau to offer Virginia a first of its kind offshore wind research lease. The lease area located about 24 nautical miles off of the Hampton Roads coastline on the Outer Continental Shelf will host a demonstration of two utility-scale wind turbine generators.This news follows Virginia’s selection as the location of only the second commercial offshore wind lease auction and sale. In September, Dominion Virginia Power successfully bid for that lease.

Speaking about today’s new offshore wind research lease, Governor McDonnell remarked, “I applaud the Department of the Interior and BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau and his team at BOEM for taking another important step to advance this vital research and demonstration initiative. Today’s development follows the BOEM September lease auction for commercial scale wind energy development in the much larger wind energy area in federal waters adjacent to the research lease and keeps Virginia at the forefront of an all-of-the-above energy development strategy. Dominion Virginia Power, the state’s largest utility, won the commercial lease auction and also leads the turbine demonstration project, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

“Virginia’s port and maritime assets and the gradual slope of the Outer Continental Shelf and consistent offshore wind speeds make this a natural geographic location to demonstrate the feasibility and eventually to develop offshore wind resources at a commercial scale. We have a robust commercial ship building industry and other assets that make Hampton Roads and the Commonwealth an attractive candidate to become the center of construction and logistical support to develop the Mid-Atlantic’s coastal energy resources.”

“Virginia did not get to this position of leadership and great potential by accident. I would also like to acknowledge years of ground laying and ongoing work by many stakeholders. BOEM, the Virginia Offshore Wind Development Authority, the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium, Dominion Virginia Power, the maritime industry, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Defense, Virginia’s Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy and many others have worked together to define the appropriate locations for research and commercial scale offshore wind development. Key to the identification of these locations has been the protection of sensitive ecological habitat and avoiding or minimizing conflicts with existing uses of the ocean space offshore Virginia, such as military training areas, marine vessel traffic, a dredge disposal site, and areas of concern specified by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Goddard Space Flight Center’s Wallops Flight Facility.

“The experience gained under the research lease will help to lower costs and reduce any possible risks from future large scale commercial development. Leveraging other funds, lowering costs and risks and accelerating the sensible and responsible development of our offshore wind energy resource have been the motivations behind all investments of state funds for offshore wind during our administration, including a recently concluded regional ocean geological survey and additional studies and data collection projects now being planned to invest $1 million of FY2014 state funds.”

The Department of the Interior release is available here:

More about the Virginia Offshore Wind Technology Advancement Project (VOWTAP)

Dominion Virginia Power and its team is one of seven projects nationally selected by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2012 to receive $4 million each in federal matching funds to undertake initial engineering, design, and permitting for an offshore wind technology demonstration facility. VOWTAP proposes designing, developing, and demonstrating a grid-connected, 12-megawatt offshore wind facility consisting of two 6-megawatt Alstom Haliade turbines mounted on innovative foundations. The project will advance offshore wind technology and gain valuable experience in offshore wind installation and operations, with the goal to reduce the cost and risk of future commercial scale offshore wind projects. In May 2014, DOE will select three projects to receive additional federal funding up to about $47 million in total and proceed with completion of the Front End Engineering and Design. Ultimately, DOE has a target for these projects to be operational by the end of 2017.

The VOWTAP team includes:

  • Dominion Virginia Power – Project lead, owner and operator
  • U.S. Department of Energy – Funding partner
  • Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy – Funding partner and offshore research lease holder
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory – Federally Funded Research and Development Center
  • Virginia Tech – Representing the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium
  • Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries
  • Alstom – Wind turbine manufacturer
  • KBR – Owner’s engineer
  • Tetra Tech – Environmental consultant
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