The successful $1.6 million bid gives Dominion nearly 113,000 offshore acres 23 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach to develop wind turbines that the company says will one day generate as much as 2 gigawatts of power.
Dominion's fossil-fueled power stations generate almost half of the power currently provided to its customers and this purchase signals a step towards diversification for Virginia’s largest utility.
The Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management approved eight companies to bid, but only two participated in the auction, which lasted six rounds.
The auction is the DOI’s second for renewable energy in federal waters, following a July 31 auction for wind energy development off Rhode Island.
“Today’s renewable energy lease sale offshore Virginia is another significant step forward in the president’s call for action to address climate change and the administration’s all-of-the-above energy strategy,” said BOEM director Tommy Beaudreau.
Beaudreau said the project would create jobs, increase energy security and provide abundant sources of clean renewable power.
BOEM has several milestones that Dominion must meet to keep the lease, with the final milestone being the submittal of a construction and operations plan within five years of signing the lease.
Once BOEM has the plan, it has an undetermined amount of time to perform an environmental analysis and approve the plan, but Dominion says it expects the first turbine to be installed in about 10 years pending project approval by state regulators.
"Offshore wind has the potential to provide the largest, scalable renewable resource for Virginia if it can be achieved at reasonable cost to customers," said Mary C. Doswell, senior vice president-Alternative Energy Solutions.
"We will now proceed with the BOEM timetable for development of the commercial wind energy area while advancing our research proposal and looking for ways to lower the cost of bringing offshore wind generation to customers."