VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The power of the wind will soon fuel energy for thousands of homes in Hampton Roads.
President Biden’s administration approved a multi-billion dollar project to establish the largest offshore wind farm in the U.S., with 176 wind turbines to be drilled into the ground. That wind farm is 27 miles off the Virginia Beach coast.
Dominion Energy communication specialist Cherise Newsome shared facts about the project.
“So the offshore wind project is going to bring clean energy to Virginians, and it’s going to help about 660,000 homes with their energy needs,” she said. “This is carbon-free, no emissions.”
The height of the turbines is taller than a the length of a football field — 836 feet.
“The width of it is wide enough that a car could drive through it,” Newsome said.
10 On Your Side first covered the start of the project in 2020 when two offshore wind turbines were built and studied.
“The offshore wind project will generate about $3 billion in savings in fuel costs for customers during just the first 10 years of operation, once fully operational. For now, customers will see about $4 cost per month over the life of this offshore wind project,” Newsome said.
The cost of the project is $9.8 billion.
Newsome said Dominion Energy is being mindful of sea life and surrounding neighborhoods.
“We’re careful when our boats are going out there and when the turbines are being installed,” Newsome said. “We’re careful when the cables are coming onshore and when we are distributing that power to residents.”
Can the turbines withstand harsh weather?
“When they are fully operational, those wind turbines can sustain hurricane Category 3 hurricane weather conditions,” Newsome said.
What about a Category 5 hurricane?
“Well, they have a technique called feathering where the blades will be able to kind of enclose themselves to prevent any more significant wind damage,” Newsome said. “But in Hampton Roads, we’ve never even had a Category 3 hurricane on record. So we’re confident that these wind turbines are going to be able to continue to perform even in the ocean waters even when there’s a hurricane.”
Will the turbines impact the weather or the environment?
“So the turbines don’t affect the weather,” Newsome said. “The weather helps the turbines work specifically because it is so windy out there. And so, wind on the water, wind in the ocean, is what helps to propel the wind blades on the turbine. And so when they’re spinning, that’s what helps to generate that energy. And then there are cables under the ocean floor that come all the way back to the coast and help to deliver that power. It gets sent to what we call a substation and then it gets broken down into the types of electric wires that you might see in your neighborhood.”
How will construction impact surrounding neighborhoods?
‘”As the project begins construction, particularly late fall, there will be some tree clearing in the right-of-way and that helps to make some adjustments to the landscape so that we can safely distribute that power and we can safely make sure that those electric wires can provide everything that the customer needs to power their homes,” Newsome said. “So we want customers to be aware that there will be construction activities, and even when that happens … customers may see trucks in neighborhoods surrounding the offshore wind, right of way the path that the cables will travel.”
She said early tree clearing will impact Headquarters Road in Virginia Beach.
The project is expected to be completed by 2026.