Governor Bob McDonnell announced today that the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is on track to issue a wind energy research lease to the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME). If issued it will be the first time that a state agency has received a research lease for the Outer Continental Shelf. The data obtained through the research lease will be available to the public and help companies determine the viability of future renewable energy production in the affected area. This is a major step towards the development of commercial wind farms off the Virginia coast in the years ahead. The information learned from lease activities will advance and accelerate the development of national offshore wind resources for Virginia and all Atlantic coastal states. Specifically, BOEM notes: "This decision clears the way for DMME to submit a plan for renewable research activities, including siting and installation of two meteorological and ocean monitoring platforms to collect data on wind velocities, water levels, waves, and bird and bat activities."
Speaking today about the move towards granting of a lease the governor remarked, "The quicker the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy can study our coastal areas for their wind-energy production potential, the sooner private companies can gain the data they need to move forward with commercial activities in the area. We strongly support an 'all of the above' approach to energy production in Virginia. Simply put, more responsible energy production, from coal to oil to natural gas to wind, equals more jobs for Virginians and more energy security for America. I have been disappointed that the Administration has not allowed us to move forward with oil and gas production off our coast, and I continue to work with our congressional delegation to secure approval for that activity. While we continue to work towards offshore oil and gas production I also want to be sure we are aggressively utilizing all of Virginia's offshore energy resources, and that includes wind. Virginia's Outer Continental Shelf areas are perfect for wind-energy production, with dependable sustained winds, a gradual slope and easy access to the Port of Hampton Roads. I look forward to the information produced through this research lease. It will be shared immediately with the public and I hope it will allow the private-sector to move quickly into actual wind-energy production off Virginia as soon as possible."
The governor previously wrote a letter to BOEM in support of the department's application for a lease. In the letter he wrote: "Activities to take place in the research lease areas, such as installation of data towers, along the edges of Virginia's commercial lease area, could substantially reduce uncertainties in energy production estimates through earlier and more accurate wind measurements, and environmental data gathering, enabling our offshore wind resources, and the jobs associated with the offshore wind industry, to develop more quickly."