The Commonwealth is blessed with being an ideal location for the offshore wind energy industry, with the premier port facilities on the East Coast, a robust maritime industry and supply chain, superior rail connectivity, and a highly skilled workforce in the farthest North right-to-work state.
The unanimous passage of legislation promoting offshore wind farm in Virginia sends a strong message to the industry, both nationally and internationally, that Virginia is ready to be a leader in the development of this emerging energy sector.
Governor McDonnell pointed out, "The highest quality winds really anywhere on the East Coast are within just a few miles of the Virginia Capes, and that’s really exciting." He went on to say, "It’s a great opportunity for us today in going forward is to expand the energy industry, and this means lots of jobs."
Senate Bill 577, patroned by Senators Don McEachin and Frank Wagner, and House Bill 389, patroned by Delegate Bill Janis, create the Virginia Offshore Wind Development Authority. Made up of 11 appointed members, including representation from the Navy and Virginia Commercial Space Flight, the new Authority would be a State entity, responsible for facilitating the development of the offshore wind industry in Virginia.
It would have the ability to create public-private partnerships to assist with meteorological, marine and avian data collection, as well as infrastructure upgrades to ports and other facilities. The Authority will be responsible for ensuring that the development of offshore wind projects does not interfere with Naval operations, NASA-Wallops Flight Facility operations, shipping lanes, recreational and commercial fisheries, and avian and marine species and habitats.
Senator McEachin remarked on his bill, "Wind is the new frontier for energy. I’ve often said if we’re going to be serious about renewable energy, we need to put our money where our mouth is. We need to put our efforts where we say we want to go, and this is the first step. It’s not the only step, it’s not the last step, but it’s the first step in trying to get renewable energy here that’s clean, safe and frankly God-given."
Hank Giffin (Vice Admiral, USN, ret) VP, SAIC and a member of VOW’s Board said, "The Virginia Offshore Wind Coalition appreciates Governor McDonnell’s support for the offshore wind industry in Virginia. This legislation emphasizes not only his support, but the tremendous support from the Commonwealth’s legislators, and through them, the support of the citizens of the Commonwealth." He went on to say, "The offshore wind turbines industry could create thousands of well paying jobs in Hampton Roads and across Virginia, and this legislation helps us to be a leader on the East Coast in this industry."
The Governor also signed House Bill 1022, patroned by Delegate Tim Hugo. This bill increases the credit for offshore wind energy towards the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard goal. Prior to passage of this legislation, all wind and solar credits were worth double the amount of other renewables. With the signing of this bill today, offshore wind is now worth three times the standard amount.
"We see this as a way for Virginia to say it’s serious about the offshore wind industry. It really sends a message," said Mary Doswell, Senior Vice President of Alternative Energy Solutions for Dominion, a VOW member.
"The Virginia Offshore Wind Coalition looks forward to working with the Governor and the General Assembly to continue to promote the development of the offshore wind industry in Virginia," said Ann Flandermeyer, Executive Director of VOW, "Together we can realize the tremendous potential this new economy holds as the next great economic engine for the Commonwealth."