Dominion Energy proposes $7.8 billion offshore wind project

Dominion Energy announced plans Thursday to build what would be the nation's largest wind farm in the Atlantic Ocean.

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The proposal calls for a 220-turbine farm that would produce over 2,600 megawatts of renewable energy that would power more than 650,000 customers. It's an investment of $7.8 billion.

"Offshore wind is an excellent renewable energy source and this filing with PJM shows how serious we are about bringing commercial-scale offshore wind to Virginia, giving our customers what they have asked for – more renewable energy," said Mark D. Mitchell, vice president of generation construction, in a prepared statement.

Dominon's announcement comes at a time when wind power is expanding throughout the country. Wind turbines generated up to 96 gigawatts, about  6.5% of the nation's electricity, in 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. And energy production from offshore wind farms is set to expand rapidly in the coming decade. The Energy Departmment estimates the country has the capacity to produce over 25,000 megawatts of wind power offshore, and department officials believe actual production could increase by over 11,000 megawatts by 2030.

“Onshore wind energy installation continues to grow across the country, and this Administration has proven that we can pursue renewable energy advancements and deployment, particularly wind energy resources, which are predicted to surpass other sources of renewable power generation this year,” Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes said in a departmental report about wind power production. “And with over 25 gigawatts in the development pipeline, U.S. offshore wind is poised to be a significant part of our comprehensive energy portfolio in the coming years.”

Dominion filed its application Monday to PJM, which coordinates the electrical transmission grid in Washington and in 13 states, in its next step towards obtaining the green light for full-scale production.

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Construction of a two-turbine pilot program at the site, more than 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach, began this summer and is expected to be operational by late 2020.

Dominion has partnered with Ørsted Energy, a Denmark-based global leader in wind production, to produce the pilot program's turbines. Ørsted's $1.6 billion Ocean Wind project was approved in June by New Jersey state regulators for a 1,110-megawatt-hour farm off the coast of Atlantic City.

The Ocean Wind project is expected to be online by 2024, and it will add an estimated $1.46 per month to an average residential customer's electric bill.

Should Dominion's plans remain on schedule, ocean survey work would begin next year. Delivery is expected to begin in 2024 and be completed by 2026.