U.S. Interior Secretary Joins Governor Northam, Senator Kaine to Announce New Actions to Advance Offshore Wind in Virginia
~ Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to initiate environmental review for Virginia’s large-scale commercial offshore wind project ~
NORFOLK—Governor Ralph Northam today welcomed U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to the Commonwealth to tour The Port of Virginia and discuss offshore wind industry supply chain opportunities together with U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, and other federal, state, and local officials. During the visit, Secretary Haaland announced that Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will initiate its environmental review for Dominion Energy’s Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind commercial project located 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. The issuance of a Notice of Intent (NOI) from BOEM marks the first major milestone in the federal permitting of the 2.6-gigawatt large-scale commercial wind project.
“The demand for offshore wind energy has never been greater. Meanwhile, recent technological advances, falling costs, and tremendous economic potential make offshore wind a promising avenue for diversifying our national energy portfolio, creating good-paying union jobs, and tackling climate change,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “Today’s tour and meetings were a great chance to learn about the Commonwealth’s continued leadership role in developing the offshore wind industry and attracting and supporting the domestic supply chain.”
“Virginia is all in on offshore wind. We are developing the infrastructure, workforce, supply chain, and manufacturing capabilities needed to capture the many benefits of this emerging industry,” said Governor Northam. “This announcement puts our Commonwealth on a path to harnessing the power of wind to produce affordable and reliable renewable energy, create thousands of new jobs, and meet our ambitious climate goals. We are grateful for the federal government’s partnership as we work to advance our clean energy future with this large-scale commercial wind project along Virginia’s coast.”
Today’s announcement follows a recent agreement between BOEM and the North Atlantic Division of the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) that will give the federal agencies additional scientific and technical resources to evaluate offshore wind projects. The initiative, which was developed in partnership with Old Dominion University and facilitated by the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME), is critical to ensuring new offshore wind leases are approved in a timely manner. Virginia’s offshore wind project will be among the first in the nation to undergo this new federal permitting process designed to accelerate offshore wind development in the United States.
“Investing in clean energy is an invaluable investment in our future,” said Senator Kaine. “I was so glad to join Governor Northam today in welcoming Secretary Haaland on her tour of the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project in Hampton Roads—among the first in the nation to use the new federal permitting initiative. Virginia is grateful for the Secretary’s announcement, and I will continue to support Virginia’s growing offshore wind industry to protect the environment, create jobs, and strengthen our clean energy economy.”
More information about the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind commercial (CVOW-C) project, the BOEM’s environmental review process, and the virtual public meetings can be found at boem.gov/CVOW-C.
“Building a domestic offshore wind supply chain is a key step needed to meet this administration’s goal of 30 gigawatts by 2030,” said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton. “If approved, the CVOW-C project will represent another step forward to help the United States leverage existing manufacturing and workforce capabilities to grow a network of domestic suppliers.”
Virginia is home to the largest maritime industrial base in the United States with existing infrastructure and a port already designed to support the offshore wind supply chain. Two six-megawatt Siemens Gamesa wind turbines were installed by Dominion and Ørsted in 2020, making it the first offshore wind project in federal waters. It is the first and only research lease in the country where technologies can be tested, providing critical information to the offshore wind industry to help reduce the cost of energy.
In 2020, Governor Northam and the General Assembly set a target for Virginia to generate 5.2 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2034 with a new law that creates a path for the development of at least two offshore wind projects that are currently planned to interconnect into Virginia. This legislation will also provide certainty to the offshore wind industry by creating a pathway for project developers to recover their costs, while containing costs and protecting low-income Virginians. These measures will help to ensure healthy competition in the procurement of offshore wind projects, bringing diverse offshore wind companies to Virginia to compete in the market and lower costs for Virginia consumers. The Commonwealth also created its first-ever Division of Offshore Wind within DMME, which will drive statewide policy to support offshore wind, work with stakeholders, and coordinate economic development opportunities to help grow the offshore wind industry in an equitable manner.
“We are honored that Secretary Haaland and Director Lefton recognize our commitment to the development of offshore wind and are here to see the assets that could serve this cutting-edge industry, which will have a transformational impact on Virginia’s clean energy economy,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “The Commonwealth’s offshore wind industry has built a lot of momentum during the Northam Administration, and today’s visit shows that this is just the beginning.”
Secretary Haaland, Governor Northam, and federal, state, and local officials toured The Port of Virginia, one of the nation’s world-class maritime facilities. Located just 30 nautical miles from the project, the port is undergoing significant upgrades to accommodate the heavy load capacity necessary in the construction of offshore wind projects in the Mid-Atlantic region.
The leaders also discussed the workforce needs of the fast-growing offshore wind industry, which could create nearly 80,000 jobs nationwide by 2030. Governor Northam highlighted the Mid-Atlantic Wind Training Alliance, Virginia’s first offshore and onshore wind workforce training collaborative. This program will offer industry-required certifications that are critical to the operations and long-term maintenance of wind projects.
The Commonwealth has partnered with states along the East Coast to encourage policy and practices that will demonstrate that the United States is open for offshore wind development. In May, Virginia was one of nine states that sent a letter to President Biden encouraging the Biden-Harris Administration to continue prioritizing offshore wind.