Dominion Virginia Offshore Wind Project Receives Federal Approval

Model of Dominion Energy's offshore wind project in Virginia

(Credit: Dominion Energy)

by | Jan 31, 2024

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Dominion Energy has received the last two federal approvals required for the construction of its Coastal Virginia Wind (CVOW) project, a 2.6-gigawatt offshore wind farm set to be the largest of its kind in the United States.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) provided final approval for the company’s Construction and Operations plan, allowing for offshore construction. The second permit came from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, allowing the company to make permitted impacts on U.S. waters for activities such as building electric transmission lines for renewable energy generated to connect with the onshore electric grid.

CVOW is to be built 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach and will be comprised of 176 wind turbines in a 113,000-acre area. The project represents a total investment of about $9.8 billion and is expected to save Virginia at least $3 billion in energy costs in its first 10 years of operation. The wind farm is expected to generate enough energy to power 600,000 homes once fully operational in 2026.

“In an important step forward, we are thrilled to see the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project receive two major approvals that will place the nation’s largest offshore wind farm right off the coast of Virginia,” said Sen Mark Warner, Sen. Tim Kaine, and Rep. Bobby Scott in a joint statement. “The progress on this project to date speaks volumes about the level of cooperation between the Biden administration, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and Dominion Energy, and their commitment to the future of green energy in the Commonwealth.”

Virginia Project and Wind Sector Face Delays, Economic Uncertainty

Like many offshore wind projects, CVOW has met a number of challenges on its way to achieving these final permits.

The project has had to make numerous updates to its construction and operations plan since December 2020, according to BOEM. In 2022, the project development was approved, but shareholders, including Walmart and Sierra Club, wanted to include a stipulation that would guarantee a 42% generation capacity factor. Dominion refused this part of the agreement and the companies had to resettle, with Dominion not having to guarantee future energy production levels, but instead explaining any future shortfalls in reports to the SCC.

For many wind projects in the U.S., and particularly offshore wind farms, permitting delays and agreements with shareholders are not uncommon. Earlier this month, Equinor and BP announced a reset of the Empire Wind 2 project off the coast of New York due to changing economic circumstances within the offshore wind industry.

The CVOW project has already engaged over 750 Virginia-based workers, and over 1,000 local jobs will reportedly be needed to support operations and maintenance of the facility once operational.

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