Sec. of the Interior Haaland visits Hampton Roads, announces next phase of offshore wind project


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY)- The U.S. Secretary of the Interior joined Virginia leaders Thursday in Norfolk to announce the next phase of an offshore wind project.

Secretary Deb Haaland, Governor Ralph Northam, and Senator Tim Kaine held a press conference at Town Point Park on Thursday after taking a boat tour of the Port of Virginia.

During the press conference, Haaland announced the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), which is under the Department of the Interior, is conducting an environmental review. The review will allow a 30-day public comment period and include virtual meetings, where people can comment about the potential impacts of the facility.

It’s just the next step toward the offshore wind facility, which will be located 23.5 nautical miles offshore Virginia Beach.

“I’m so pleased to be here to witness Virginia’s incredible progress in advantages in offshore wind and helping them build a clean energy future for the commonwealth, the country, and future generations,” Sec. Haaland said.

Currently, Dominion operates two turbines as part of a pilot project. The facility will be able to operate around 200 turbines and generate up to 3,000 megawatts of electricity.

Governor Northam says another project called “Kitty Hawk” will add just under 200 turbines.

“We’re in a prime position here to not just promote energy here in North Carolina and Virginia but the entire east coast,” he said.

Northam said Virginia is working toward clean energy, with the passing of its Clean Virginia Energy Act last year, which sets a number of goals to decrease carbon emitting power and move toward clean energy.

The offshore wind facility is a step toward it.

“We are thrilled the project is moving forward to help Virginia reach its full offshore wind capacity,” he said.

The facility will be run by Dominion Energy when it’s approved and is a solution toward fighting climate change and sea level rise, something Hampton Roads is susceptible to, according to Senator Tim Kaine.

“For people who live in Hampton Roads, climate change isn’t about tomorrow. It isn’t about 50 years from now. It’s about today,” he said.

The investment of offshore wind will also bring jobs, according to Gov. Northam.

“We estimate at the end of the day, this could generate approximately 14,000 jobs here in Hampton Roads, in the commonwealth. This is a win-win for our environment. It gets rid of carbon but also gives jobs,” he said.

Creating environmentally friendly jobs is a goal of the Biden-Harris Administration, according to Haaland, who said they’re working to create 80,000 jobs through the development of offshore wind by 2030.

The environmental impact review is accepting comments through August 2, 2021 and will hold virtual meetings. To learn more, click here.

The review will be used to create an environmental impact statement, which will be used in the project’s approval process, and could take up to two years.

Dominion has said the construction of the turbines will start in 2024.

“If we’re going to be revolutionary in our economy and build opportunities for every single family no matter their zip code, background, or relationship with the land, we have to work together,” Haaland said.

To learn more about the offshore wind project, click here.

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