State picks firm to help guide offshore wind development

The Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy has picked a London-based renewable energy consulting firm to help position Virginia to become a hub for the “offshore wind supply chain and service industry,” Gov. Ralph Northam’s office announced.

BVG Associates will “build on Virginia’s advantages and opportunities as well as provide recommendations to further enhance the commonwealth’s port assets and maritime workforce,” the governor’s office said. According to the request for proposals issued by DMME in May, the work was expected to cost about $125,000. BVG was one of six proposals received, DMME said.

“It’s time for Virginia to take significant steps forward to secure our clean energy future, and I look forward to working with BVG Associates to establish Virginia as the prime location for the offshore wind industry, from the supply chain to the full build-out of Virginia’s offshore wind resources,” Northam said. “We hope that this effort will help enhance Hampton Roads’ unmatched port infrastructure and high-quality maritime workforce and ultimately lead to substantial economic and job growth in the commonwealth.”

The RFP sought expertise in planning related to the industry supply chain, port infrastructure requirements, long-term maritime service needs and other considerations.

“DMME’s comprehensive leadership role, reinforced by Virginia’s unique operational and economic advantages, will enable the offshore wind industry not only in Virginia but all along the U.S. East Coast,” said BVG Associates Advisory Director Andy Geissbuehler. “BVG Associates and its partners are excited to combine European experiences and U.S. expertise to collaborate with Virginia to plan leveraging its assets towards a location of choice for the offshore wind supply chain and service industry.”

The state has also set up  www.vaoffshorewind.org, which touts Virginia’s “unmatched port infrastructure, high-quality maritime workforce and thriving economy” that “differentiate it from every other East Coast state.”

Dominion Energy plans to seek approval this summer from the State Corporation Commission for an offshore wind pilot program about 27 miles off the cost of Virginia Beach.

The project, developed with Denmark’s Orsted Energy, will  “provide valuable information that could lead to more extensive wind development,” Dominion says. At present the only offshore wind turbines in the water off the coast of the United States are near Block Island, R.I. But more New England turbines are in the works.

Offshore wind is big business in Europe, however. According to industry site Wind Europe, Europe now has a total installed offshore wind capacity of 15,780 megawatts. That works out to 4,149 grid-connected wind turbines across 11 countries.

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Robert Zullo
Robert has been winning and losing awards as a reporter and editor for 13 years at weekly and daily newspapers, beginning at Worrall Community Newspapers in Union, N.J., where he was a staff writer and managing editor. He spent five years in south Louisiana covering hurricanes, oil spills and Good Friday crawfish boils as a reporter and city editor for the The Courier and the Daily Comet newspapers in Houma and Thibodaux. He covered Richmond city hall for the Richmond Times-Dispatch from 2012 to 2013 and worked as a general assignment and city hall reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from 2013 to 2016. He returned to Richmond in 2016 to cover energy, environment and transportation for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He grew up in Miami, Fla., and central New Jersey. A former waiter, armored car guard and appliance deliveryman, he is a graduate of the College of William and Mary. Contact him at [email protected]