Governor Ralph Northam has unveiled Virginia’s 2018 Energy Plan, which focuses on increasing investments in wind, solar, energy efficiency, energy storage, and electric vehicles.
The plan provides a vision for the Commonwealth’s energy policy over the next 10 years and sets goals for renewable energy generation, energy efficiency, and electric vehicles.
It builds on implementation of the Grid Transformation and Security Act (Senate Bill 966), which Governor Northam signed into law earlier this year. Among other recommendations, the plan calls for a comprehensive grid modernisation planning process to facilitate the implementation of Senate Bill 966.
The plan also calls for 3 GW of solar and onshore wind to be deployed by 2022, 2 GW of offshore wind to be deployed by 2028, and for Virginia’s utilities to collectively invest US$115M per year in energy efficiency programmes.
The recommendations for offshore wind focus on supporting the development of offshore wind itself as well as growing the offshore wind supply chain. It also includes support for a 12-MW offshore wind demonstration project.
To progress development of offshore wind the Commonwealth signed an agreement with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) for the first offshore research lease in the US with Dominion Energy as the designated operator for the lease to enable the construction of the Virginia Offshore Wind Technology Advancement Project (VOWTAP).
VOWTAP consisted of two 6-MW wind turbines on a research lease site. As the project evolved, Dominion Energy partnered with offshore wind developer Ørsted in 2017 to refine the original plans for what is now called the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project (CVOW).
Dominion Energy recently filed for approval of this demonstration project with the State Corporation Commission under provisions of Senate Bill 966 that deems 16 MW of offshore wind energy in the public interest.
The CVOW research and development project will lay the groundwork for potential large-scale commercial development of up to 2 GW in Virginia’s 112,800-acre wind energy area.
To facilitate the development and execution of a strategy, the Commonwealth should consider creating the Office of Offshore Wind within the energy division at the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, the report said. In addition, Dominion Energy should submit a timeline for the various steps and approvals necessary to accomplish the full build-out of the offshore wind resource. The Commonwealth should continue to work with Dominion Energy, BOEM, the Department of Defence, the Port of Virginia, commercial shipping and fishing interests, and other stakeholders to ensure that all stakeholder concerns are addressed and that the resource can be deployed at the lowest possible cost.
“As the pending offshore wind report provides specific policy recommendations, the Commonwealth should include the offshore wind industry as a priority in future workforce development and economic development strategic plans,” the plan said.
“A co-ordinated prioritisation of the offshore wind supply chain will send a signal to local and regional partners regarding the crosscutting value the industry can bring to the Commonwealth. Governor Northam should also initiate regional collaboration with neighbouring states, which can help provide greater certainty for the industry as it looks to establish a long-term project pipeline. This may reduce regulatory and administrative burdens for companies as they make investment decisions.”