RICHMOND, Va. — The largest offshore wind project in the country could soon be built along the coast of Virginia Beach.
Dominion Energy is in the initial stages of what’s called the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project. So far, the company has filed a proposal with PJM, the regional transmission organization that oversees the electrical grid.
”Our customers have been asking us for more renewable energy so we’re excited to be taking the first steps,” Dominion Energy Communications Specialist Audrey Cannon said.
The proposal includes the construction of more than 220 wind turbines about 30 miles off the coastline of Virginia Beach. This would power about 650,000 homes on the electric grid.
If the project is approved, the turbines would be built over the course of three years in three phases. The company hopes everything will be up and running by 2026.
Dominion Energy, along with Gov. Ralph Northam, broke ground earlier this summer on a test run of the project to construct two turbines, which the company says is the first fully permitted wind project in U.S. federal waters.
”It is in line with our commitment to reduce our carbon emissions by 55 percent by 2030,” Cannon added.
Dominion Energy says their plans to cut back on how much carbon is used to make energy is in line with a push by Gov. Northam. With Executive Order 43 signed this week, Northam set a goal to make Virginia’s electricity entirely created by renewable energy resources by 2050.
“[The Governor has] made it clear…Virginia is going to be a leader in offshore wind,” Cannon said.
The project is estimated to cost $7.8 billion, but company officials say costs could go down depending on new technology and where products for construction are sourced.
Cannon says “it’s too soon” to know what impacts this project may have on customers’ monthly bills. Any changes would have to be approved by regulators.
The overall project still needs to get the green light from the State Corporation Commission, SCC, which regulates the utility company. The SCC is in the middle of deciding whether or not Dominion can make more money by raising its rate of earnings. At a hearing about this issue last week, customers and advocates questioned Dominion’s commitment to “green” projects.
Cannon assures the company is “absolutely committed to a cleaner energy future for Virginia.”Besides the SCC’s approval, other agencies will need to sign off on permits before construction can begin.