Virginia Sets 5.2GW by 2034 Offshore Wind Target

The Virginia General Assembly has passed the HB 1526 Virginia Clean Economy Act which requires at least 5.2GW of offshore wind power to be developed by 2034.

The bill passed the House of Delegates by a 51-45 vote, and the state Senate by a 22-17 vote.

The legislation will now be sent to the desk of Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam who back in September 2019 signed an executive order to have up to 2.5GW of offshore wind developed on an accelerated timeline by 2026.

The bill establishes requirements regarding the development by Dominion Energy Virginia of qualified offshore wind projects having an aggregate rated capacity of not less than 5,200MW by January 1, 2034.

The utility will also be required to identify options for utilizing local workers during the construction of offshore wind projects; identify the economic development benefits of the project for the Commonwealth, including capital investments and job creation; consult with relevant governmental entities, including the Commonwealth’s Chief Workforce Development Officer and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, on opportunities to advance the Commonwealth’s workforce and economic development goals, including furtherance of apprenticeship and other workforce training programs; and give priority to the hiring of local workers, including workers from historically economically disadvantaged communities.

The bill removes provisions that authorize offshore wind generating facilities to continue to be eligible for an enhanced rate of return on common equity during the construction phase of the facility and the approved first portion of its service life of between 5 and 15 years. It also increases the limit from 16MW to 5,000MW on those offshore wind generation facilities that are declared to be in the public interest.

Dominion Energy is, in collaboration with Ørsted, currently developing Virginia’s first offshore wind project – the 12MW Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) demonstration wind farm off Virginia Beach. The wind farm is scheduled to be operational by the end of 2020.

The two-turbine project is expected to provide the operational, weather, and environmental experience needed for large-scale development in Dominion Energy’s adjacent 112,800ha lease site, which has the capacity to generate up to 2GW of offshore wind if fully developed.

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