Va. governor signs offshore wind energy bills
On Friday, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell signed into law several bills that promote the development of the state's offshore wind industry.
The bills were part of a legislative package promoted by the Virginia Offshore Wind Coalition (VOW), a stakeholder organization formed in 2009 by localities, manufacturers, utilities, developers and freight transportation companies to encourage development of the offshore wind industry in Virginia. VOW has pointed up Virginia's large port facilities, rail connections and workforce to the state's lawmakers.
'The highest quality winds really anywhere on the East Coast are within just a few miles of the Virginia Capes,' McDonnell said at the signing ceremony. 'It's a great opportunity for us today in going forward is to expand the energy industry, and this means lots of jobs.'
Virginia Senate bill 577 and House bill 389 create the Virginia Offshore Wind Development Authority. Comprised of 11 appointed members, including representation from the Navy and Virginia Commercial Space Flight, the new authority will be a state entity, responsible for facilitating the development of the offshore wind industry in Virginia.
The authority will have the ability to create public-private partnerships to help with meteorological, marine and avian data collection, as well as infrastructure upgrades to ports and other facilities. It will also be responsible for ensuring that the development of offshore wind projects does not interfere with naval operations, NASA-Wallops Flight Facility operations, shipping lanes, recreational and commercial fisheries, and avian and marine species and habitats.
In addition, McDonnell signed House bill 1022, which increases the credit for offshore wind energy towards the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard goal. Prior to the passage of this legislation, all wind and solar credits were worth double the amount of other renewables. With the signing of this bill, offshore wind is now worth three times the standard amount, VOW said in a statement.
'We see this as a way for Virginia to say it's serious about the offshore wind industry,' said Mary Doswell, senior vice president of alternate energy solutions for Dominion and a VOW member.
In addition to Dominion, other VOW members include APEX, Areva, BAE Systems, the City of Virginia Beach, Colonna's Shipyard, Fugro, the City of Norfolk, Earl Industries, W.F. Magann Corp., the Port of Virginia, SAIC, Seawind Renewable Energy Corp., and Weeks Marine.
For more details about port and transportation challenges faced by U.S. offshore wind farm developers, read the April American Shipper, pages 14-18. ' Chris Gillis