US seeks Virginia offshore comment

The US Interior Department (DOI) is seeking public comment as part of an Environmental Assessment (EA) it will prepare to analyze potential impacts from a proposed grid-connected, 12MW wind test facility off Virginia’s coast.

The 30-day comment period will begin Friday, according to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), a unit of DOI that oversees wind energy development in federal waters on the outer continental shelf (OCS).  

The EA will consider the reasonably foreseeable environmental consequences associated with the activities and facilities proposed in the research activities plan.

The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) has requested a research lease and proposes to design, develop, and demonstrate the test facility in the OCS parcel. In December, BOEM found there was no competitive interest in the research area where DMME proposes to conduct research.

The proposed wind test facility off Virginia is one of seven proposed "Offshore Wind Demonstration Projects" for the nation's coasts that received initial US Energy Department funding awards in December 2012.

DOE on 15 May will select two or three of the pilot projects for an additional $47m each in funding.

The award was given to Dominion Resources, which partnered with DMME and others to establish the Virginia Offshore Wind Technology Advancement Project (VOWTAP). Before VOWTAP can install any facilities on the OCS, it must obtain BOEM approval.

The DMME team proposes to install and operate two 6MW Alstom Haliade wind turbines about 44km east of the coast, and connect them to existing infrastructure located in the City of Virginia Beach.

In December, Dominion won a commercial lease sale held for the adjacent BOEM-designated 472.6sq km Wind Energy Area. The utility holding company has five years to conduct research and submit a commercial development plan to BOEM.



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