The Bulletin

New federal agreement aims to accelerate offshore wind in Virginia and N.C.

By: - June 14, 2021 3:41 pm

Dominion Energy, Ørsted and Eversource Reach Deal on Contract to Charter Offshore Wind Turbine Installation Vessel

A new federal agreement that aims to speed up review of offshore wind projects in federal waters will initially focus on the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project being developed by Dominion Energy off the coast of Virginia Beach and the Kitty Hawk project off North Carolina. 

In a release from Gov. Ralph Northam’s office, Virginia Sen. Mark Warner said the agreement “will help streamline the permitting process” for the CVOW project “and potentially serve as a model for other future offshore wind projects in Virginia and across the nation.” 

As President Joseph Biden’s administration seeks to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030, wind groups and experts have publicly fretted about what are seen as slow permit review processes and inadequate staffing at the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. 

The new agreement announced Monday will allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to assist BOEM with scientific and technical review of proposed wind projects. 

“While the scope of the agreement covers all renewable energy activities in the Atlantic, the initial focus will be on the (Army Corps) supporting the review of the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind commercial project and the Kitty Hawk project,” wrote BOEM in a release

Northam’s administration said the initiative was developed by retired Col. Paul Olsen of Old Dominion University, who previously served as the Army Corps’ Norfolk District commander. 

Virginia is among several East Coast states to announce ambitious commitments to offshore wind, passing legislation in 2020 mandating the development of 5.2 gigawatts of the renewable resource. Dominion, which pioneered the first offshore wind pilot in federal waters, is currently pursuing a 2.6 gigawatt project 27 miles off the state’s coast. The company submitted its construction and operations plan to BOEM in December. 

While the Kitty Hawk project is being planned off the North Carolina coast, developer Avangrid this winter identified Hampton Roads as a possible destination for the power the turbines generate. 

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Sarah Vogelsong
Sarah Vogelsong

Sarah is Editor-in-Chief of the Mercury and previously its environment and energy reporter. She has worked for multiple Virginia and regional publications, including Chesapeake Bay Journal, The Progress-Index and The Caroline Progress. Her reporting has won awards from groups such as the Society of Environmental Journalists and Virginia Press Association, and she is an alumna of the Columbia Energy Journalism Initiative and Metcalf Institute Science Immersion Workshop for Journalists.