After six rounds of bidding, the second in a series of competitive auctions for offshore wind energy leases came to an end this afternoon. Shortly after, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced Richmond-based Dominion Virginia Power as the provisional winner of Virginia’s wind energy area.
“This year’s second offshore wind lease sale is another major milestone in the president’s all-of-the-above energy strategy and demonstrates continued momentum behind a robust renewable energy portfolio that will help to keep our nation competitive and expand domestic energy production while cutting carbon pollution. Today’s sale is the result of a great deal of collaboration and planning with the Commonwealth of Virginia, which has been a leader in advancing offshore renewable energy for the Atlantic coast and an enthusiastic partner in this effort.”
– Interior Secretary Sally Jewell
Virginia’s wind energy area consists of nearly 112,800 acres 23.5 nautical miles from the Virginia Beach coastline. Once operational, a project in this area could have the capacity to provide clean, renewable energy to more than 700,000 homes.
A few weeks ago, Providence-based Deepwater Wind secured the leases for the federally designated Rhode Island-Massachusetts wind energy area in the first auction of this kind, and BOEM plans to hold auctions for areas off of Maryland, New Jersey, and Massachusetts in the coming months.
These auctions are the products of persistent leadership by the Department of Interior, BOEM, and state officials, who recognize the great value of offshore wind power. With Europe reaping the benefits of nearly sixty offshore wind energy projects, this technology is tried and true – and Interior Secretary Jewell clearly intends to get the U.S. in the game. America’s Atlantic Coast has some of the best and most plentiful wind in the world. To responsibly harness the potential off our shores is to create long-term jobs, promote clean air and clean water, and protect wildlife and future generations from the dangerous impacts of climate change. Today, we commend strong leadership in Virginia for moving us one step closer.
How can we keep up this momentum?
Securing a lease is progress worth celebrating – but it is just one piece of the puzzle. To guarantee that offshore wind projects will be built in these lease areas, and those still to be announced, we need Governors, state legislatures, and Congress to continue demonstrating America’s commitment to clean energy. We need to ensure that these first-movers are rewarded for their initiative, both with individual power contracts and with tax incentives – particularly an investment tax credit – and other policies to advance this critical new clean energy source.
Tell Congress to pass the Incentivizing Offshore Wind Power Act and keep us moving toward a clean energy future!