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US review process starts for Virginia offshore wind project

July 1, 2021 GMT

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — The U.S. Interior Secretary announced Thursday the beginning of a federal review process for an offshore wind project that would install 200 wind turbines off Virginia’s coast.

The project is owned by Dominion Energy and would be the first commercial endeavor of its kind off the state’s coastline. The project is approximately 27 miles from Virginia Beach. And it could ultimately provide enough electricity to power 650,000 homes, Dominion has said.

U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, who visited the Port of Virginia on Thursday, said support for the Virginia project reflects the Biden Administration’s plans to develop enough offshore wind energy by 2030 to power 10 million American homes for a year. An estimated 80,000 jobs are expected to be created.

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“The demand for offshore wind energy has never been greater,” Haaland said in a statement. “Recent technological advances, falling costs and tremendous economic potential make offshore wind a promising avenue for diversifying our national energy portfolio.”

Gov. Ralph Northam’s office said Virginia will be among the first states in the nation to undergo the new federal permitting process, which is designed to accelerate offshore wind development. The review by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management includes a 30-day public comment period and the preparation of an environmental impact statement.

The project in Virginia is expected to support about 1,100 long-term jobs, state officials said. But the state expects there to be about 1,500 jobs in 2024 and 2025 during peak construction.

“Virginia is all in on offshore wind,” Northam said in a statement. “We are developing the infrastructure, workforce, supply chain and manufacturing capabilities needed to capture the many benefits of this emerging industry.”