Feds eye Southeastern NC for offshore wind energy

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded $4 million for an offshore wind energy test project led by Dominion Virginia Power.

The Richmond-based electric utility plans to design, develop and install two 6-megawatt turbines in the Atlantic Ocean on innovative “twisted jacket” foundations that offer the strength of traditional structures but use substantially less steel.

“Winds off the coast of Virginia hold great potential for electricity generation,” said Mary C. Doswell, senior vice president for alternative energy solutions at Dominion Resources Inc., the parent company of Dominion Virginia Power.

The test project is one of seven to be awarded grants to complete the engineering, design and permitting phase of test offshore wind generation turbines, according to the Energy Department.

After the testing phase, the federal agency will select up to three of the seven projects for follow-on phases that focus on siting, construction and installation, aimed at achieving commercial operation by 2017. The projects could receive up to $47 million each over four years.