VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam was in Virginia Beach on Monday to tour the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Pilot Project and sign legislation on renewable energy.

Northam ceremoniously signed the legislation Monday morning at the Virginia Beach Aquarium & Marine Science Center and then went to tour the project about 20 miles off the coast.

This will be the first offshore wind project to be installed in federal waters.

“This project makes Virginia a national leader in America’s transition to renewable energy,” said Northam. “Coupled with newly-signed offshore wind legislation, we are building a new industry that will bring thousands of clean energy jobs to our commonwealth and grow our economy — all while protecting our environment. This is a significant step forward for workers, for business, and for our planet.”

Two wind turbine foundations for the project were recently installed last month.

On May 25, the first turbine foundation was safely and successfully installed on the ocean floor 27 miles off Virginia Beach, and on May 30, the second turbine foundation was installed. The turbines themselves were set to be installed on the foundations later in June.

Image provided by Dominion Energy

The project is the largest in North America with a projected goal providing up to 2,600 megawatts of clean energy by 2026, which is enough electricity to power nearly 650,000 homes. 

The turbines will provide enough clean, renewable energy to power 3,000 Virginia households by the end of the year. The program’s goal is to provide about 12-megawatts of energy once fully installed and operational.

“Offshore wind will enable the commonwealth to meet its carbon reduction and 100% clean energy goals, and it will provide thousands of Virginians with good, family-supporting career-length jobs. Virginia’s development is particularly exciting as it marks the first offshore wind project in federal waters, cementing our position as a mid-Atlantic hub for the industry,” said Sierra Club Virginia Chapter Offshore Energy Program Director Eileen Woll.

Before the boat trip, Northam and other legislators spoke about the momentous day.

Northam signed three House bills at the event, one of which was pushed forward by Sen. Louise Lucas.

“This is why all of us go through legislation is to make sure we do things in terms of providing economic development, providing jobs, and of course it’s an absolute marvelous day for the environment, let’s give it up for the environment,” said Lucas.

The signed legislation establishes a target for Virginia to generate 5,200 megawatts of offshore wind energy by 2034, providing a path for the development of at least two offshore wind projects that are currently planned to interconnect into Virginia.

The governor also signed a bill that creates Virginia’s first Office of Offshore Wind within the DMME.

This office will drive statewide policy to support offshore wind, work with stakeholders, and coordinate economic development opportunities to help the offshore wind industry, Northam said.

“This is just an exciting day for Virginia, it’s about our environment, it’s about our economy, it’s about bringing up to 14,000 new jobs here in Hampton Roads,” said Northam.

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