Where should new power lines for offshore wind go? Dominion Energy holding meetings to gather input

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Dominion Energy is looking for input as to where power lines carrying current from their offshore wind turbines should be placed in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake.

The power company is holding four virtual public meetings this week, two on each Tuesday and Wednesday, to update the community on their latest plans for the $8-billion project that’ll see 188 wind turbines off the coast of Virginia by 2026.

While the wind farm’s location is solidified, the path the power will take to the online substation is not.

Current plans call for 27 miles of undersea power cables to come ashore at or near the State Military Reservation (formerly Camp Pendleton) and eventually make their way to a Dominion substation near Naval Auxiliary Landing Field Fentress in Chesapeake.

“We need to have a collaborative discussion with everyone in Hampton Roads, especially Chesapeake and Virginia Beach to get their input on the best place to put the onshore infrastructure,” said Bonita Billingsley Harris, a regional director of Dominion Energy.

Harris said the lines could be a combination of above and below-ground on the nearly 20-mile journey. The plan is to maximize the use of existing rights-of-way and other available space where feasible.

“There’s the Southeastern Parkway right-of-way that has already been developed,” Harris said, giving an example of space that could be used.

The Southeastern Parkway was a proposed road that would have run from an area near the Virginia Beach Municipal Complex, traveling west south of Stumpy Lake and then ending near the Greenbrier area of Chesapeake.

Courtesy: Dominion Energy

Another proposed part of the project is the construction of a new switch substation on the former horse stable property at Naval Air Station Oceana.

In an October 2020 report on future base design for Naval Air Station Oceana, a group of consultants endorsed the United States Navy entering into an agreement with Dominion for 140 acres off Oceana Boulevard.

“I’m not ready to dive into a lot of detail about the following but it is a nascent relationship with Dominion Energy to support their costal Virginia offshore wind program,” Capt. John Hewitt, base commander of NAS Oceana said in a presentation to Virginia Beach City Council in November 2020.

Construction isn’t set to start until 2024, with Dominion submitting several alternatives to regulators later this year.

At this point, Harris said she can’t say if private property will need to be considered for where the power lines will be placed.

“We are in listen-and-learn mode, gathering input from individuals,” Harris said.

The virtual meetings will be held March 2 at 8 a.m. and noon, and March 4 at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.

You can join the virtual meetings by going to:  www.coastalvawind.com and signing up to “Join a Virtual Meeting.”

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