Governor Bob McDonnell issued the following statement this morning following news that 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 4th, the Department of the Interior will auction 112,799 acres offshore of the Commonwealth in a competitive lease sale. The area will be sold as one single lease and it is anticipated it will support 2000 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. 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. I want to thank Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and her team at BOEM for moving this project forward as part of a comprehensive approach toward meeting our nation's energy needs and creating more good jobs for our people.
"Earlier in our Administration we were pleased to accept the invitation of then Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to join the Department's Offshore Wind Consortium, and we worked with the Secretary on the "Smart from the Start" program. Together with the General Assembly, we created the Virginia Offshore Wind Development Authority (VOWDA) to oversee the data gathering, research and planning that must be done to support offshore wind development off of Virginia's coast. As part of that effort we are currently working toward final approval of two offshore wind research leases.
"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. 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.
"Today is another great step forward in ensuring Virginia is the 'Energy Capital of the East Coast.' I believe in an 'all-of-the-above' domestic energy strategy. We must utilize all of our energy resources, from wind to oil to gas to coal to nuclear, to create good jobs for our people and provide greater energy security for our country. I look forward to this historic lease sale in September."
The McDonnell Administration has taken numerous steps to position the Commonwealth as a national leader in offshore wind energy including:
- Proposing successful legislation to create the new CEMIG program to focus existing resources for energy development incentives on targeted nuclear, wind, solar and biomass alternative energy projects. The legislation expanded Virginia's economic incentive programs for those companies willing to locate and innovate right here in the Commonwealth and will help make Virginia a hub for clean and renewable energy production.
- Proposing successful legislation to create a Green Job Creation Tax Credit, an annual $500 tax credit for every green job created with a salary of $50,000 or more, for five years and up to 350 jobs.
- Joining and supporting the work of former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's offshore wind consortium to reform the permitting process and develop leasing and permitting timelines that would support financing and actual project development; led to the Secretary's "Smart from the Start" program.
- Adopting a "first of its kind" in the nation Permit By Rule to streamline permitting of small (< 100 MW) land-based and offshore (state waters) renewable energy projects by addressing all issues of species and habitat, water quality and other state regulatory issues in a single permitting process agreed upon by all interested agencies and other stakeholders.
- Creating the Virginia Offshore Wind Development Authority (VOWDA) which oversees the data gathering, research and planning that must be done to support offshore wind development off of Virginia's coast and track issues as they arise, and makes recommendations for promoting Virginia offshore wind development.
- Conducting several studies to quantify Virginia's offshore resource, and the transmission resources needed and available to support development of that offshore resource.
- Partnering with the BOEM to conduct a regional ocean geological survey, which will provide data about the ocean floor that will be made available to developers.
- Submitting applications for two research leases - one in the wind area designated by the Department of the Interior in federal waters, and one in state waters - to facilitate turbine testing and future gathering of metocean data.