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Federal government will auction off another offshore wind site in Virginia

One of Dominion Energy's pilot wind turbines off the Virginia Beach coast in June.
Photo by Katherine Hafner
One of Dominion Energy's pilot wind turbines off the Virginia Beach coast in June.

The 176,000-acre lease area is located directly east of where Dominion Energy is already building the nation’s largest offshore wind farm.

The federal government announced Friday that it will soon auction off two more offshore wind energy leases in the central Atlantic Ocean — including one off the coast of Virginia just east of Dominion Energy’s wind farm already under construction.

The Biden administration said in a news release that the auction on August 14 is part of its effort to fight climate change by expanding access to renewable energy sources. Under the current administration, the Interior Department has approved eight commercial-scale wind energy projects in federal waters.

The upcoming auction includes a 101,443-acre area about 26 miles off the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Delaware.

The other, an area spanning 176,505 acres, is located about 35 miles from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia – directly east of where Dominion Energy is already building its wind farm off the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.

Dominion’s Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project will include 176 wind turbines and is expected to generate enough electricity to power about 660,000 homes – equivalent to most households on Hampton Roads’ Southside.

The U.S. Department of Interior said the two new leases could power a total of up to two million homes.

Seventeen companies have qualified to bid in the upcoming sale — including Dominion. Spokesperson Jeremy Slayton told WHRO in an email that "no final investment decision has been made."

"This is a potential option for regulated offshore wind generation development to meet the needs of our customers," Slayton wrote. "We are focused on CVOW which remains on time and on budget. The Virginia model for regulated offshore wind development is working well, providing exceptional value for our customers and would be the model we intend to purse for any future offshore wind development."

Another approved bidder is Avangrid Renewables, a company behind a planned wind farm off the Outer Banks that has drawn pushback from residents of the Sandbridge neighborhood in Virginia Beach who oppose the path of underground cables.

A map outlining federal lease opportunities for offshore wind. The section filled in green is Dominion's current offshore wind farm, with the part extending east the new site going up for auction in August.
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
A map outlining federal lease opportunities for offshore wind. The section filled in green is Dominion's current offshore wind farm, with the part extending east the new site going up for auction in August.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management includes several lease stipulations and bidding credits as part of the process, like rewarding bidders who commit to workforce training programs and those who help mitigate any impacts to commercial or recreational fishing.

This week’s announcement comes while the burgeoning offshore wind industry tries to bounce back from financial turbulence and political uncertainty. (Former President Donald Trump has vowed to immediately halt offshore wind projects on “day one” if he is re-elected in November.)

Dominion is currently facing a federal lawsuit from conservative groups that argue the Virginia Beach wind farm threatens endangered whales.

Scientists have repeatedly said there is no evidence linking any whale deaths to the offshore wind industry.

Katherine is WHRO’s climate and environment reporter. She came to WHRO from the Virginian-Pilot in 2022. Katherine is a California native who now lives in Norfolk and welcomes book recommendations, fun science facts and of course interesting environmental news.


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