Dominion offshore wind farm moves closer to final approval
Construction approval expected from BOEM in January
Dominion Energy has passed another critical federal hurdle on its way to gaining approval to begin construction on its $9.8 billion, 176-turbine offshore wind farm 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management granted a favorable record of decision for the Richmond-based Fortune 500 electric utility’s 2.6-gigawatt Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project Tuesday. The decision represents the final step in the National Environmental Policy Act review process for its construction and operations plan.
“Today’s decision balances the orderly development of OCS renewable energy with the prevention of interference with other uses of the OCS and the protection of the human, marine and coastal environments,” BOEM said in the record of decision. “A decision that balances these goals where they conflict and does not hold one as controlling over all others is consistent with the duties required.”
Also Tuesday, Dominion earned approval from the Department of the Interior for its construction and operation plan.
“The Interior Department is committed to the Biden-Harris administration’s all-of-government approach to the clean energy future, which helps respond to the climate crisis, lower energy costs, and create good-paying union jobs across the manufacturing, shipbuilding and construction sectors,” Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said in a statement. “Today’s approval of the largest offshore wind project in U.S. history builds on the undeniable momentum we are seeing. Together with the labor community, industry, trribes and partners from coast to coast, we are aggressively working toward our clean energy goals.”
The final approval for the wind farm’s construction and operations plan is expected to come from BOEM on Jan. 29, 2024, with Dominion slated to begin construction in May 2024. Once fully constructed in late 2026, the turbines will power up to 660,000 homes.
“Receiving a favorable record of decision from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is a monumental achievement for Dominion Energy and the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind team,” Dominion CEO, Chair and President Bob Blue said in a statement. “More than a decade of work has gone into the development, design and permitting of CVOW. Offshore wind is a vital part of our strategy to provide our customers with a diverse fuel mix that delivers reliable, affordable and increasingly clean energy.”
The project will be the nation’s largest offshore wind farm and aligns with a state mandate that the Richmond-based Dominion go carbon-free by 2045.
In mid-October, the first eight monopiles, the foundation posts for the massive wind turbines, arrived at Portsmouth Marine Terminal and state officials and Dominion executives celebrated their arrival from Germany Friday.
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, 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.
The record of decision will be published in the Federal Register later this week.