Dominion Virginia Power has expressed interest to the U.S. government in obtaining offshore wind power leases for an area off the Virginia coast.
According to Dominion, the site has the potential to generate between 1.5 GW and 2 GW of offshore wind energy. However, the exact capacity would be dependent on detailed site investigations.
Dominion expressed its interest in the entire 113,000 acres the government is making available approximately 24 miles off the Virginia coast in its response to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's (BOEM) call for information and nominations.
Dominion received a two-year, $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to find innovative ways to reduce the cost of offshore wind generation by 25%.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts that the cost of offshore wind generation in 2016 would be approximately $0.24/kWh. This is a significant premium over the $0.073/kWh for the generation portion of the utility's current residential rate, Dominion notes.
As with any utility generating project, the Virginia State Corporation Commission would have to approve any offshore wind power generation project proposed by Dominion. The company says that if it is awarded a lease, it will conduct detailed site-assessment activities, including the erection of a meteorological tower to study wind strength and patterns.
The leasing area is divided into 19 three-mile by three-mile whole blocks and 13 partial blocks. Because navigational and environmental studies may further limit suitable areas for development, Dominion says it nominated all of the lease blocks so it would be positioned to propose a project with beneficial economies of scale.
BOEM notes that responses to its call for information could lead to initiation of a competitive bidding process for tracts where more than one expression of interest is received or a noncompetitive process if there is not more than one.