Virginia Governor Unveils Energy Plan That Includes Offshore Wind Focus

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Gov. Terry McAuliffe, D-Va., has formally unveiled the 2014 Virginia Energy Plan, which highlights an ‘all of the above’ strategy that features an emphasis on developing more renewables, especially offshore wind power.

In his remarks, McAuliffe said, ‘If we are going to build the economy Virginia families deserve, we must begin by giving them the energy plan our economy demands. The plan we are rolling out today is focused on growing our energy economy (particularly in the renewable sector), emphasizing energy conservation, strengthening our energy infrastructure and training the workforce we need for the future.

"By working together, I am confident that four years from now, we will live in a stronger commonwealth that is less dependent on external forces and is fueled by cleaner, cheaper and more abundant Virginia energy."

Although the plan calls for more reliance on natural gas and nuclear energy, it also calls for increased development of renewable generation, such as solar and wind power.

According to the plan report, Virginia currently has no utility-scale wind power in operation, but the state has an onshore wind resource potential of about 1.8 GW at an 80-meter hub height. So far, though, only one wind project has received approval. Nonetheless, the report says a number of developers have been exploring projects in the state and notes that out-of-state wind projects serve Virginia load.

According to the report, "Offshore wind has the potential to provide the largest, scalable renewable energy resource for Virginia." Offshore wind in the state could also prove to be a $15 billion industry over the next 10 years, the report adds.

Last year, Dominion Virginia Power won a federal lease for 112,800 acres off the Virginia coast to develop offshore wind power. The leased area has the potential to support 2 GW of wind generation. Furthermore, offshore research projects are under way. In March, McAuliffe, an outspoken supporter of offshore wind development, announced research grants and declared that the state was "open for business" to offshore wind.

Other goals of the energy plan include the following:

– Reducing energy consumption by aggressively pursuing energy efficiency measures in government, businesses and residences;

– Investing in reliable and resilient energy infrastructure to strengthen Virginia's business climate; and

– Preparing Virginia's workforce to drive the future energy economy.

The full energy plan can be found here.

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