by John Fredericks
Anybody who knows me knows I’m a jobs guy. I believe in jobs, good wages and all the positives than come from infrastructure projects. We have one about to explode in our own backyard here in Virginia – and I mean explode in a good way. It’s the multi-billion dollar economic development blockbuster known as the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Project. This thing has been under development for a long time…from the informational meetings years ago, the drawing boards, the public meetings, the regulatory hurdles and the construction.
Now we have two test turbines doing exactly what Dominion Energy said they would do – generate clean, emissions free renewable wind energy 27 miles off the coast of Virginia beach, outside of eyeshot – and laying the foundation for more turbines to come. That means more jobs to come. More tax revenue to come. A new supply chain and economy diversification to come. It’s Virginia’s version of a moonshot – and I’m all for it. What’s not to like? Everybody should be on-board for this and championing it from the rooftops.
In the age of Covid-19 and the debacle known as 2020, the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Project is the best thing to happen this year – and it will be the Christmas gift that keeps on giving for years to come. I don’t want to get into complaints of cost, environmental impact, or the fact it’s Dominion Energy’s project. Policy makers and everyone else have had time to vet that and have spoken – we all support it and want to move forward. It’s great news for Hampton Roads, the Commonwealth collectively and the eastern seaboard of the United States. So now, we have two turbines that work.
What’s next? Well, the feds have a two year review process to sign off. If things stay on schedule that part could be done by 2022. Construction could start as soon as 2024, and by 2026 the windfarm could be generating enough electricity to power 660,000 homes. That’s a lot of energy. During that two-year federal review, things like geotechnical, biological, cultural, commercial fishing, military and commercial shipping considerations will all be taken into account. There is 113,000 acres of space 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach where somewhere around 150 to 200 turbines will be positioned.
We still have a ways to go before this is all a reality – but the two successful test turbines are what makes the next step possible. This is something all of Virginia will benefit from and we can all celebrate.
Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, adults and children, dogs and cats should see the value of this- and throw away the political lens. It really is like putting a man on the moon: 900 jobs and $143 million in economic impact annually during construction. And 1,100 jobs and $210 million in economic impact annually during wind farm operations. The local tax benefits will generate $5 million per year in the beginning for state and local coffers – and that bumps to $11 million annually once the project is commissioned and operational.
Virginia – it feels like Santa may have something for our stockings after all this year: jobs and energy.
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John Fredericks, Publisher and Editor In Chief, The Virginia Star.
Photo “Wind Turbines in Ocean” by Dominion Energy.