Dominion’s Wind Project Wins Federal Approval

Norfolk Virginian-Pilot photo of the first eight monopiles for Dominion’s offshore wind project, celebrated at a ceremony last Thursday upon their delivery.

The Biden Administration’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has issued final approval for the construction of Dominion Energy Virginia’s Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project. Here is the release. A few more steps remain and should be completed by late January, according to BOEM.

The announcement, fully expected since all previous U.S. projects have been similarly approved, followed by a few days the arrival of the first set of gigantic monopiles, the first eight of the 176 structures Dominion will build about 27 miles or more off Virginia Beach.

The only coverage of their arrival was provided by The Virginian-Pilot. Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) attended and has praised the project all along. The paper provided only an indirect quote from his remarks:

The project is also at the heart of Virginia’s all-of-the-above approach to energy production, which aims to make energy cheap and plentiful by employing fossil fuels, nuclear and growing green energy, said Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who attended the event.

No communication on the event has been issued from the Governor’s Office, which normally chronicles all his public events and comments on economically important issues. The Pilot story, worth reading if you can get past the firewall, quotes Dominion CEO Robert Blue extensively on how this project – unlike most others on the East Coast – is still proceeding on time and on budget.

The only photographs of the monopiles released so far are those printed by the Pilot and taken by its reporter. (Do staff photo departments still exist?) Again, Dominion has put out none yet that I can find. The tubes are surprisingly similar in size to the hull structures of the Virginia Class nuclear submarines built across Hampton Roads at Newport News Shipbuilding.

The figure of $9.8 billion is usually mentioned as the capital cost for the European-built turbines and all the added equipment to bring the electricity ashore and connect to the grid. But when the Virginia State Corporation Commission approved the financial investment more than a year ago, the possibility of costs as high as almost $14 billion was recognized in the final order.

Official publication of this “record of decision” is the point at which any opponents seeking to challenge BOEM’s decision or related permits have a chance to file a lawsuit. Suits are pending in other states, but the first to reach a decision went against the opponents.

— Steve Haner