Editorial: The time is right for Virginia to get serious about offshore wind energy

The Virginian-Pilot | Editorial Board | July 10, 2019

PEOPLE CAN ARGUE about the details, now that Dominion Energy has started building Virginia’s first offshore wind energy project off the coast of Virginia Beach. But no one should minimize the significance of this move toward a more sustainable future.

Among the questions are: Is Dominion moving too slowly as it takes its first steps toward generating offshore wind energy? And, will offshore wind projects lead to steep rate increases for Dominion’s power customers?

The answer to the first question is: Maybe so, but at least Dominion has started construction on this important source of clean energy, however cautiously it is proceeding. That first step is a big one.

The answer to the second is that the effects on customers’ rates remain to be seen. Officials will sort out how much of the cost of this and other improvements to the way Dominion generates and distributes power is passed on to customers in Virginia and North Carolina. Obviously, no one wants to see their electric bill go up.

But these are changes that need to be made, and the coast of Virginia has the potential of being a major center for offshore wind farms. The strong winds and relatively shallow waters off our shores make for an ideal location.

That’s why some groups that are pushing for more alternative energy are urging Dominion to proceed more ambitiously. They point out that other East Coast states are surging ahead of Virginia.

Dominion, however, says it is taking a measured approach, what it considers a test run. The company wants to make sure two giant wind turbines it will be installing 27 miles out into the Atlantic off Virginia Beach are going to work as expected before building additional turbines. It also wants to make sure there are no unexpected effects on marine life.

Work is underway on a substation at Camp Pendleton for the project. Any day now, a construction rig laying conduit under the Atlantic should be visible from Virginia Beach’s Oceanfront. Work on the turbines is to begin early next year, and they should be up and running later in the year.

The completed turbines won’t be visible from the Oceanfront.

Read the full editorial here.