U.S. BOEM Completes Environmental Review of Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Project

Credit: Alex/AdobeStock
Credit: Alex/AdobeStock

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) said Monday it had completed its environmental review of the proposed Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) commercial project.

“The completion of our environmental review marks another step towards a clean energy future—one that benefits communities and co-exists with other ocean users,” said BOEM Director Elizabeth Klein. “The best available science and knowledge shared by Tribes, other government agencies, local communities, ocean users, industry, environmental organizations, and others informed the analyses contained in this document, and we look forward to continued engagement with all of our partners and key stakeholders as we proceed with next steps.”

A Notice of Availability for the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Dominion Energy’s proposed project will be published in the Federal Register on September 29, 2023.Credit: BOEM 

The final EIS analyzes the potential environmental impacts of the activities detailed in the Construction and Operations Plan, which includes 202 wind turbine generators (WTGs) and their associated offshore and onshore export cables.

BOEM plans to issue a Record of Decision on whether to approve the project this fall.  

On December 16, 2022, BOEM published a draft EIS, initiating a 60-day public comment period, which closed on Feb. 14, 2023. BOEM held three virtual public meetings to solicit additional feedback on the draft EIS from Tribal Nations, local community members, commercial fishing interests, and other ocean users. BOEM received a total of 50 comments submitted from Federal, Tribal, state, and local government agencies; non-governmental organizations; and the public.  

"BOEM considered comments received when developing the final EIS, a critical step to determining whether the project can move forward while balancing the needs and interests of those who may be affected by the development. Specifically in response to comments received, BOEM developed a preferred alternative that includes fewer turbines to reduce impacts to navigation and a known fish haven area, better allow for ocean co-use, and meet the energy needs of Virginia," BOEM said.

Dominion Energy: "Significant Milestone"

"The completion of CVOW's environmental review is another significant milestone to keep the project on time and on budget. Regulated offshore wind has many benefits for our customers and local economies – it's fuel-free, emissions-free, and diversifies our fuel mix to maintain the reliability of the grid," said Bob Blue, Dominion Energy's chair, president, and chief executive officer. 

Dominion Energy is proposing to construct 176 14.7-megawatt wind turbines and three offshore substations in a 112,800-acre commercial lease area located 27 miles off the Virginia Beach coast.

Dominion Energy estimates that CVOW will produce enough carbon-free electricity for 660,000 Virginia households.

"Today's announcement reinforces the confidence that the company, our vendors and our suppliers have in our project's completion, providing further motivation to maintain focus on delivering on time and on budget knowing we and our government partners continue to meet critical milestones."

According to Dominion Energy, CVOW is expected to create hundreds of direct and indirect jobs during construction and more than a thousand during operations, while attracting companies to make investments to make Virginia a hub for offshore wind development and support.

"There are more than 750 Virginia-based workers – nearly 530 in the Hampton Roads region – currently engaged on the CVOW project or with other businesses supporting CVOW and future offshore wind development, including redevelopment work at the Portsmouth Marine Terminal, construction of the offshore wind Monitoring and Coordination Center, maritime provisioning, ship repairs, divers, heavy lift and rigging, cyber security, food service and hospitality," CVOW said.

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