Wind turbines with the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind pilot project off the coast of Virginia Beach, Virginia on June 8, 2022. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

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The Biden administration has approved a plan to install as many as 176 large wind turbines off the Virginia Coast. Once finished, the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) project, to be constructed by Dominion Energy, will be the largest offshore wind farm in the country.

The new project will be located about 23.5 nautical miles off the coast of Virginia Beach and will generate approximately 2,600 megawatts of offshore wind energy, with the capability of powering more than 900,000 homes, a press release from the U.S. Department of the Interior said. The 176 wind turbines of CVOW will each have 14.7 megawatts of capacity.

“The Interior Department is committed to the Biden-Harris administration’s all-of-government approach to the clean energy future, which helps respond to the climate crisis, lower energy costs, and create good-paying union jobs across the manufacturing, shipbuilding and construction sectors,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland in the press release. “Today’s approval of the largest offshore wind project in U.S. history builds on the undeniable momentum we are seeing. Together with the labor community, industry, Tribes and partners from coast to coast, we are aggressively working toward our clean energy goals.”

The administration has a goal of 30 gigawatts of capacity by 2030.

Initially 900 jobs are expected to be created by the project annually, with an estimated 1,100 jobs each year when operations begin.

“Today’s announcement is the result of hard work by the [Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)] team and our ongoing conversations with Tribes, federal agency partners, state and local leaders, ocean users, industry and others to help inform the development of this project every step of the way,” said BOEM Director Elizabeth Klein in the press release. “We look forward to continuing to work together to responsibly develop this clean energy resource and ensure a sustainable future for generations to come.” 

According to the Department of the Interior, BOEM, which oversees offshore wind reviews, is on track to review plans for at least 16 more offshore wind projects by 2025, which would generate in excess of 27 gigawatts of renewable energy.

Environmental impacts of the project, as well as possible mitigation measures and alternatives, were analyzed and feedback was gathered through consultations, public comments and meetings. Klein said BOEM had consulted with state and local leaders, Tribes, ocean users, industry groups and other federal agencies as part of its decision to green-light the Virginia project.

Dominion Energy has pledged to establish fishery mitigation funds in order to compensate commercial and recreational fisheries for losses that are a direct result of the project.

The energy company has agreed to construction clearance zones, speed restrictions on vessels and other measures to reduce the potential impacts on protected species like marine mammals, Atlantic sturgeon and sea turtles.

“We look forward to continuing to work together to responsibly develop this clean energy resource and ensure a sustainable future for generations to come,” Klein said, as The New York Times reported.

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