Dominion considering other options for offshore wind after setback

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Dominion Virginia Power is looking into options for its proposed offshore wind demonstration project after an announcement Friday that the U.S. Department of Energy is withdrawing $40 million in funding.

Mary C. Doswell, senior vice president of Dominion Energy Solutions, said Dominion plans to consult with other members of the project team and other participants in a stakeholder group before deciding what the next move will be.

The Virginia Offshore Wind Technology Advancement Project (VOWTAP) would install two advanced-technology, six-megawatt wind turbines in federal waters, about 24 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach.

At peak production, the turbines would generate enough electricity to power up to 3,000 homes.

Current bids for the project’s construction range between $300 million to $380 million, compared with an initial estimate of about $230 million.

Doswell said the DOE made the decision to withdraw funding after Dominion couldn’t guarantee an in-service date for the project earlier than 2020. Though the company says they’ve been working toward an earlier date, “there are too many uncertainties to meet DOE’s request.” Some of those uncertainties include the project’s high cost, the inability to get firm construction contracts and the complexity of getting regulatory approval for energy infrastructure projects.

“This project is a first in many ways,” Doswell said. “As such, you need to account for many variables when attempting to lock in on a date with any degree of certainty.”

VOWTAP was one of three offshore wind projects chosen by the DOE in May 2014 to receive a second round of funding.

The project’s other partners are:

  • Alstom Power Inc., (recently acquired by General Electric Company), a wind turbine manufacturer that will supply the turbines;
  • KBR, a global engineering, construction, and services firm with experience in offshore wind;
  • Keystone Engineering, the designer of the innovative substructure;
  • the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a federally funded research and development center;
  • Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries;
  • and the Virginia Tech Advanced Research Institute, representing the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium.

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