The first offshore plans for a wind farm in the Virginia Region had a boost last Wednesday as Dominion Virginia Power got the lease right for almost 113,000 of ocean acres off the coast of Virginia that will be used for power production using wind turbines.
Dominion won over Apex Virginia Offshore Wind in an auction conducted by the Interior Department. The power company will install wind turbines 27 miles away from the Virginia cost and paid $1.6 million for this right. Once finished, the wind farms are supposed to provide power to approximately 700,000 homes.
On shore wind turbines provide large amount of power in many US states. This includes Colorado, Texas, Iowa, and Minnesota. But unlike in Europe, the US does not have a single operating offshore wind farm. There are large wind farm plans at different development phases in the waters off New York, North Carolina, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. There are also small demo projects on the Rhode Island and Maine waters.
The largest of the plans is the Massachusetts Cape Wind project. But this got stuck in law suits. On the other hand the lease auction for Maryland has not yet been conducted but a legislation sponsored by Gov. Martin O’Malley has already been approved. This will help the future project developer with financing.
Environment America’s energy program director Rob Sargent said that it’s obvious that the Obama administration is seriously committed to considering all alternatives on clean-energy. Environment America is a coalition of 29 environmental advocacy organizations.
The Chesapeake Climate Action Network, another environmental coalition argued that the long range energy plan of Dominion is focused on new fossil-fuel projects more than in the expansion of offshore wind farm projects.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management of the Interior Department, is the agency that held the auction. Tommy Beaudreau, the director of the agency said that they take these leases very seriously and that they will be very focused on watching over developments conscientiously.
The senior vice president for alternative energy solution of Dominion, Mary C. Doswell said that the company looks forward to the efforts providing a novel way to producing electricity to the state. She opined that offshore wind carries the potential to offer the state of Virginia with quantifiable renewable resources as long as it can be realized at realistic cost to users.
According to an official of the Interior Department, the lease is located in an area with high winds yet low water depth of merely 100 feet. This will not entail the use of floating wind turbines. The wind turbines are also quite far from the Virginia Beach, making them observable from the beach.