PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – This week is Women in Construction Week. An ongoing energy project highlights the work they do and the importance of their roles.
A project at the Portsmouth Marine Terminal will bring 2.6 gigawatts of energy to Hampton Roads through the use of 176 wind turbines offshore.
The power that the turbines will produce is enough to power 660,000 homes.
The project is a result of the partnership between Skanska and the Port of Virginia to repurpose 72 acres of the Portsmouth Marine Terminal to use as an offshore wind staging port.
Skanska project engineer Lisa Flitter broke down her company’s contribution for the project.
“The project consists of demolishing about 1,500 linear feet of the wharf structure and rebuilding it with new 36-inch square concrete piles and a port deck on top,” she said. “There are 1,300 piles that we’re going to be putting in the ground and then also rebuilding and demolishing the asphalt and rebuilding new aggregate layers, about 74 acres beyond the wharf.”
According to the National Association of Women in Construction, women make up nearly 11% of the construction industry.
Flitter was the only woman out of 40 workers on construction sites when she started in the industry. Now, there are about eight women working on the wind offshore project – something she said is important for the job.
“We bring something to the table that’s a different way of thinking,” Flitter said. “We run into issues or ways of building things that, if you get a different perspective on it, it might be better than what you’re previously thinking.”
The partnership also includes Dominion Energy, which is fulfilling half of the 5.2 gigawatts Virginia needs under the Clean Economy Act, according to the company’s Project Engineer, Michelle Kleinau.
She said it’s exciting to see the industry come together in such a way.
“It’s projected that during the construction of the project, there will be as many as 900 jobs in the Hampton Roads area to support the project and during operations, as many as 1,100 jobs,” Kleinau said.
The foundation for the turbines will arrive at the end of this year, with the project scheduled to be completed in 2026.
Kleinau had a lasting message for any young girls wanting to get into the male-dominated STEM industry.
“Pursue your passions,” she said. “There’s a place for us.”