More offshore wind news–what’s in the water? By Chris Madison (AWEA)

Salazar promised to end the suspense –make a decisiosn on the project–by April.

Then Fisherman’s Wind announced a small but potentially symbolic offshore wind farm–it could be the first to be built–that would supply electricity to Atlantic City, a place where the tourists would probably like to see the wind turbines (as opposed to some residents of Cape Cod).

Today, Secretary Salazar announced another initiative, a meeting next month in Washington of governors from states along the Atlantic Coast that are considering wind power projects. Salazar wants the officials to discuss how they can "support and coordinate the development of this new industry."

Salazar said, "Wind energy production in the Atlantic offers great promise and this meeting will provide an opportunity for us to exchange ideas and chart a course forward to advance further development. A coordinated approach to wind energy will serve all our interests in establishing the proper framework for appropriate development of this important resource.”

Jennifer Banks, a siting specialist at American Wind Energy Association, said, “Secretary Salazar has continued to lead the way in getting offshore wind projects moving off the East Coast. This is another example of his initiative and we applaud it.”

Also this week, a new group, the Virginia Offshore Wind Coalition, announced Friday in Virginia Beach their goal to create the "Silicon Valley of wind energy on the East Coast."

According to, the coalition said developing an offshore wind energy hub in Virginia Beach could result in an $80 billion industry that could supply more than 10,000 jobs.

Welcome to the Virginia Offshore Wind (VOW) Coalition.

Offshore wind is one of the new exciting energy industries emerging in the United States. The green movement has proven to be more than a fad as individuals, corporations, government agencies, municipalities, and even the military strive to find ways to conserve energy and seek out clean, renewable sources of power.

Offshore wind has proven its commercial and technical feasibility through the more than 25 wind farm projects in operation in Europe. Up and down the East Coast of the United States, wind farms are in various stages of development in federal and state waters. No other state has more opportunity for economic gain and to be a leader in the offshore wind industry than Virginia.

In order to be competitive with other coastal states and to create a hub for manufacturing and shipping in our state, Virginia needs to create incentives and opportunities for these industries.

The Virginia Offshore Wind Coalition gives stakeholders such as developers, supply chain businesses, service industries, government entities, organizations and individuals interested in the development and promotion of the offshore wind industry in Virginia a united voice and a vehicle to create an atmosphere in which progress for this clean, renewable energy can progress rapidly in the Commonwealth. Proactive steps must be taken to bring this industry here with all its environmental and vast economic benefits. The VOW Coalition is the tool to bring about this opportunity in Virginia.

The VOW Coalition is made up of developers, manufacturers, utilities, localities, business and environmental groups, and other organizations and individuals who have an interest in offshore wind. Together we have a strong message, as the most diverse interests speak with one voice in support of bringing offshore wind energy to Virginia.

Why Offshore Wind?

The offshore wind industry is emerging in Virginia. Renewable energy initiatives are being addressed in every level of government and across a broad spectrum within industry. The public is motivated to find ways to reduce energy consumption and use cleaner sources of energy without the negative environmental impacts. Renewable energy has proven its potential elsewhere for economic growth through new jobs and the development of new opportunities for business and manufacturing.

Virginia has an opportunity to become the leader in one of the newest and fastest growing industries in the nation – offshore wind. Virginia is the ideal location for an offshore wind farm for a variety of reasons including:
-Sustained class 5 and 6 winds
-A long, shallow continental shelf
-Natural hurricane protection from the Outer Banks
-Deep water ports
-An existing robust maritime and manufacturing industry in the Hampton Roads region

With Virginia’s ever-increasing energy consumption and the need to find Virginia-based sources to reduce the amount of imported energy, the need has never been greater. Wind is a clean, perpetual and renewable energy source, just waiting to be developed. And, with the creation of offshore wind farms and the opportunity for Virginia to be the manufacturing hub for wind farms up and down the East Coast, the development of this industry is a win-win for the Commonwealth.

Virginia has lagged behind other coastal states in the country in creating a friendly, attractive environment for manufacturers and developers for the offshore wind industry. With current estimates of offshore wind generating more than $15 Billion of capital investment along the East Coast in the next ten years, it is important for Virginia to level the playing field. It is vital that changes be made now to bring the industry to Virginia and capitalize on our many assets.

The Virginia Energy Plan

Offshore wind energy production is directly in line with the energy goals of Virginia. In 2006, the General Assembly passed legislation directing the Commonwealth of Virginia to form a 10-year, comprehensive Energy Plan. The project was completed in 2007 and established four primary goals for Virginia, as stated on the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy website.

1. Increase energy independence, with an emphasis on conservation and clean fuel technologies, by:

*Reducing the rate of growth of energy use by 40 percent. This will reverse the projected growth in per capita energy use and result in a nearly level per capita energy use per year.
*Increasing Virginia’s indigenous energy production by 20 percent.

2. Expand consumer energy education to overcome barriers to implementing energy-efficiency and conservation actions.Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2025, bringing emissions back to 2000 levels.Capitalize on economic development opportunities through business expansion and increased research and development in areas of strength, including alternate transportation fuels, nuclear technology, coastal energy production, and carbon capture and storage.

Production of electricity from an offshore wind power source off the Virginia shoreline fulfills the Commonwealth’s first goal by increasing the amount of energy produced in Virginia, helping to close the gap between production and consumption in the State. Virginia is currently the nation’s second highest importer of power, importing almost a third of that consumed each year, and an offshore wind project will help alleviate this deficit.

Offshore wind is also an emission-free power source. More sources of non-polluting energy, such as offshore wind, means a reduction of emissions and will help the Commonwealth reach its goal of returning to the levels of 2000.

Additionally, offshore wind energy production also will help to meet goal of the Energy Plan – capitalizing on economic development opportunities. More than most other renewable energy sources, an offshore wind project has the potential of making Virginia the hub of a brand new and rapidly growing industry. Offshore wind projects are currently being developed up and down the East Coast, and only Virginia has the deepwater ports, the maritime industry and the manufacturing capability to fully support the entire industry. Otherwise, these projects will have to look to the Gulf for their maritime support, but basing the industry in Virginia will save these ventures time and money. An offshore wind project based off the shores of the Commonwealth will be the catalyst for bringing this industry to Virginia.