To support Gov. Ralph Northam’s push to reduce carbon emissions, Dominion Energy announced a plan to develop the country’s largest offshore wind project off the coast of Virginia Beach.
The project, if approved, would produce 2,600 megawatts of energy, which would power about 650,000 homes during peak wind periods. The plan would be launched in three 880-megawatt phases that will come in 2024, 2025 and 2026.
The application would have to be approved by PJM, the company that coordinates the electrical grid in parts of Virginia, Washington, D.C. and 12 other states.
"Offshore wind is an excellent renewable energy source and this filing with PJM shows how serious we are about bringing commercial-scale offshore wind to Virginia, giving our customers what they have asked for – more renewable energy," Mark Mitchell, the vice president of generation construction at Dominion said in a statement. "Gov. Ralph Northam has made it clear Virginia is committed to leading the way in offshore wind. We are rising to this challenge with this 2,600-megawatt commercial offshore wind development."
The project would be 112,800 square acres about 27 miles off of the coast of Virginia Beach. Dominion would be using the space that it is leasing from the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management. If approved, work would begin in 2020 and a Construction and Operations plan would be submitted in 2022.
Dominion said it intends to reduce its carbon emissions by 55 percent by 2030 through investments in wind, solar and nuclear energy, all of which emit no carbon, and low-carbon emitting natural gas.
This plan would be the first step in Northam's plan to produce 30 percent of the commonwealth’s energy from renewable resources by 2030. Currently, less than 7 percent of the state’s energy production is renewable, which means that this plan would require additional infrastructure investments.
Northam’s office said that Dominion’s project would make progress for the governor’s goals.
“Gov. Northam is glad to see Dominion taking significant steps to harness the power of offshore wind,” Alena Yarmosky, the governor's press secretary said in an email. “Virginia has a unique opportunity to become a national leader in offshore wind technology, manufacturing, and deployment – the governor is committed to working with Dominion and other partners to realize this goal.”
Northam’s plan also seeks to eliminate all carbon emissions by the year 2050. Environmental groups have applauded Northam’s goals, but some free-market groups have suggested that building up the infrastructure that quickly would be too expensive.