By Stan Blackwell, Director - Customer Solutions & Strategic Partnerships, Dominion Energy
Published in Issue 4 | July 31, 2020
The need for more renewable generation in Virginia has been recently affirmed with the passage of the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA), signed into law by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam on April 11, 2020. This pivotal legislation focuses on propelling Virginia into a leadership role among the states in fighting climate change. The law, which has deemed 5,200MW of new offshore wind generation in the Commonwealth, is “in the public interest” and paves the way for economic growth opportunities, creation of new jobs for the local workforce, and accelerates a clean energy future in Virginia.
To meet this challenge head-on, Dominion Energy is developing the single largest offshore wind project in America to be built 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. “Governor Ralph Northam has made it clear that Virginia is committed to leading the way in offshore wind. We are rising to this challenge with this 2,600MW commercial offshore wind development,” said Mark Mitchell, Dominion Energy Vice President of Generation Construction.
The passage of the VCEA has reinforced the need for Dominion Energy to upgrade and modernize its electric grid. The Grid Transformation and Security Act of 2018 laid the groundwork for the ten-year plan and associated investment to move forward to a smarter, stronger, greener grid for all Dominion Energy customers. The VCEA has furthered these efforts with the specific focus on cleaner energy including battery storage, solar and wind generation combined with retiring fossil fuel plants and increasing energy efficiency programs.
Offshore wind has long been discussed as a viable option to increase Dominion Energy’s renewable generation capacity and decrease the utility’s carbon footprint. This discussion has recently evolved from concept to planning and a new pilot program is under construction off the coast of Virginia Beach, VA which will bring two new 6MW offshore wind turbines into operation later this year.
The experience gained from permitting, constructing, and operating the pilot project will help with the development and construction of the large-scale commercial offshore wind project, which will begin construction in 2024, with the full project scheduled to come online in late 2026. This will provide enough energy to serve more than 650,000 customers at full output. This new wind generation represents an important part of Dominion Energy’s plan to achieving net zero carbon and methane emissions across the 20 states it operates in by 2050.
“Governor Ralph Northam has made it clear that Virginia is committed to leading the way in offshore wind. We are rising to this challenge with this 2,600MW commercial offshore wind development,” said Mark Mitchell, Dominion Energy Vice President of Generation Construction.