The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has selected an area off the coast of Virginia as the site of the nation’s second offshore wind energy lease sale. On September 4, the Department of the Interior will auction 112,799 acres in a competitive lease sale. The area will be sold as one single lease and it is anticipated it will support 2,000 megawatts of wind generation and enough electricity to power 700,000 homes.
“Today, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced the formal date for the auction of lease blocks in federal waters off Virginia’s outer continental shelf for the commercial development of offshore wind energy,” Gov. Bob McDonnell said yesterday. “This will be only the second offshore wind energy lease sale in American history and it is an exciting and significant step in our bipartisan effort to advance Virginia’s ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy.”
“Virginia’s coast is ideal for wind development. The gradual slope of the Outer Continental Shelf and consistent offshore wind speeds make this a natural geographic location for the commercial utilization of offshore wind resources,” McDonnell said. “At the same time, Virginia enjoys a robust commercial ship building industry poised to become the center of construction for the component parts needed to build the specialized ships, turbines and towers necessary for these upcoming leases, and potentially for additional future wind leases on the east coast. This will result in millions of dollars in industrial activity and the creation of many new high-skilled jobs in our state.”
Congressman Jim Moran, Northern Virginia Democrat and Ranking Member on the Interior and Environment Appropriations Committee, applauded the announcement.
â€œThis lease sale announcement is welcome news to Virginia. The Commonwealth is poised to be a leader in wind energy production and this brings us one step closer to realizing that goal,” Moran said. â€œI will work to ensure that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has the resources it needs to move forward on this lease sale in a timely manner. Virginia will show the rest of the country that investment in renewable energy helps not only the environment, but also provides a boost to our economy and is a safer, cleaner alternative to opening up new areas to oil and gas drilling.â€
Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe called it a “critical step forward.”
“Today, Virginia imports much of its energy from other states. And the development of renewable energy sources grows at a far slower pace than important conventional sources like coal, nuclear, and natural gas. The successful development of a major offshore wind power project will diversify â€“ and make more secure â€“ Virginiaâ€™s energy supply, while creating well-paying jobs right here in the Commonwealth,” McAuliffe said. “Virginiaâ€™s work with the federal government to focus on the potential of offshore wind began under then-Gov. Kaine and has intensified under Gov. McDonnell. I applaud them both. Virginia must remain engaged with the private sector in the years ahead to bring offshore wind power and the thousands of jobs it promises to our great Commonwealth.”