It’s time for Virginia to plan its next offshore wind farm

offshore wind turbines

Virginia’s first commercial offshore wind farm is on track to start construction next year and to be fully operational in 2026.  The Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) project being developed by Dominion Energy will be the single largest offshore wind farm in the U.S. and among the first full-scale commercial wind projects built in U.S. waters. 

Yet it has taken us 10 years to get this far. Future projects will have shorter timelines now that the industry is gaining its footing and government bodies have figured out how to regulate it. Even so, the complexity of planning, permitting and building giant wind turbines 25 miles out in the ocean means Virginia needs to start planning the next project now to ensure that the supply chain businesses that have located here, and the workers we are training to build CVOW, still have reason to remain in Virginia come 2027. 

For most Virginians, offshore wind may still feel experimental because it has produced only two small projects in the U.S.: a 5-turbine wind farm off of Rhode Island’s Block Island built in 2016 and a two-turbine pilot project 27 miles out from Virginia Beach that started generating power in 2020. But at least 30 other projects are underway up and down the East Coast, including one currently under construction off Massachusetts and another off of New York that will begin construction this year. Plans are also underway for wind farms in the Great Lakes, off the West Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico. 

Together these projects add up to more than 53,000 megawatts (MW), exceeding the Biden Administration’s 30,000 MW by 2030 goal – enough to power 10 million homes with clean, renewable energy. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, independent forecasts show that goal to be solidly realistic. The U.S. offshore wind industry itself recently announced a longer-term target of 110,000 MW, reflecting the business community’s expectations for growth. 

The industry is also far more mature in other parts of the world. Global capacity passed the 50,000 MW milestone last year, and the global pipeline stands at more than 368,000 MW. (Surprise, surprise: China is eating our lunch, installing 13,790 MW in 2021 alone.)

Perhaps the most compelling evidence for the promise of the offshore wind industry in the U.S. is the size of industry events. In the course of a dozen years, U.S. offshore wind conferences have gone from gatherings of a few hundred academics, environmentalists and entrepreneurs in a hotel ballroom to the nearly 4,000 business people and hundreds of exhibitors who packed the Baltimore convention center at the end of March for the Business Network for Offshore Wind’s International Offshore Wind Partnering Forum (IPF).

Often the governor of a state hosting one of these annual conferences uses the occasion to unveil new goals or infrastructure investments; Maryland Gov. Wes Moore did not miss his chance this year. He announced that Maryland plans to develop 8,500 MW once the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management makes new lease areas available, a goal behind only New Jersey’s 11,000 MW target and New York’s 9,000 MW. Virginia’s goal begins to look cautious by comparison.

The industry does face challenges. Inflation and supply chain issues have disrupted timelines and threatened profitability. There aren’t enough workers. Transmission constraints hinder the ability to get power to customers. Permitting is a pain in the neck. Here in the mid-Atlantic, it’s hard to identify new areas of the ocean suitable for wind farms, in large part because the Department of Defense wants it all for itself. 

Other challenges are more of the good kind, such as the fact that wind turbine sizes are increasing faster than ships capable of transporting and installing them can be built. Larger turbines mean more power at less cost, and no one is quite sure what the upper size limit might be. On land, the difficulty of transporting blades that can be the length of a football field means turbines are limited to about 3 MW. Fabricating parts at coastal facilities allows turbines to scale up as far as physics and advanced material manufacturing allow.

Dominion installed 6-MW turbines for its pilot project, which was seen as the new standard a few years ago. Today the company plans to use 15-MW turbines. Each one of these massive turbines is said to produce enough energy to power 20,000 European households. I have not seen that figure translated into U.S. suburban McMansions, but it is still an eye-popping amount of emissions-free power from a single structure.  

Oh, and Dominion handled the installation ship issue by building its own vessel, which it will rent out for the Massachusetts and New York projects until it is needed for Virginia’s and others in the queue. Problem solved, at least for Virginia, though the industry needs many more ships.  

Will the cost of energy come down? 

Virginia’s CVOW project has been criticized for its high overall cost, largely the result of our immature domestic industry. The Biden Administration has set a goal to lower costs by one-third by 2030. If history is any indication, this should be readily achievable. A National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) analysis shows costs have fallen by more than half since 2016, and projects that by 2030, the levelized cost of energy from offshore wind turbines will fall by another third.  

Scaling up turbines to capture more wind energy is one approach to bringing the per-kilowatt-hour price down. Economies of scale, a U.S. supply chain, and a range of innovative technologies are all expected to contribute. And of course, the Inflation Reduction Act, with its tax credits for domestic manufacturing and renewable energy, is creating a gold rush of sorts, as companies compete to get a piece of the action. 

Another significant factor in reducing costs is automation and machine learning. Some of the gains are incremental, such as optimizing turbine operation and improving turbine siting through improved wind and wake modeling. Other advances seem like windows into a future where robots take charge. Multiple exhibitor booths at IPF displayed crewless, self-piloting survey and depth-monitoring vessels and underwater robots capable of doing more tasks than humans can. Biologists and geologists stay comfortably ashore while on-board computers collect information at sea around the clock and send the data back. 

Today’s innovation will inform the next great leap forward for the industry: floating wind turbines that open deep water to energy production. Right now, floating turbines must be tethered to the seafloor  and connected to cables to bring power to shore. For various reasons this technology is more expensive than fixed-foundation turbines, but here, too, the industry expects to become competitive in the future. 

Some people are thinking much bigger. Walt Musial, a principal engineer at NREL who is one of the top researchers in the field, gave an IPF audience a look into the future. There, automation and AI could make it possible for unmoored, cableless turbines to pilot themselves around the oceans, chasing the best winds, avoiding hurricanes and turning electricity into liquid fuels like ammonia to drop off at ports of call or offshore “energy islands.”  Musial even referred to these turbines as “vessels,” evoking a whole new kind of wind-powered transportation.

 A display at the Business Network for Offshore Wind’s IPF conference exhibits an autonomous wind turbine that could contribute to the nation’s future wind energy capacity. (Ivy Main/The Virginia Mercury)

It’s a great time for workers entering the industry — if you can find them 

Though un-crewed, AI-directed traveling wind turbines may be the future, the present still requires foundations, cables, service vessels and, especially, a large workforce. Attracting and training an offshore wind workforce has become such an urgent issue that the topic earned its own track at IPF. 

To its credit, this heavily male, heavily white-dominated industry says it is committed to recruiting a diverse workforce and ensuring equitable development of offshore wind, also a goal of the Biden Administration. It will have to; right now, no one has enough workers, so finding them means recruiting from overlooked communities and addressing the social and economic barriers that have kept many people out of the skilled labor force. 

While not new to other large infrastructure projects, Community Benefit Agreements with detailed commitments covering local job creation and other investments, are new for offshore wind. Dominion has not entered any such agreement in Virginia, but as part of its case before the State Corporation Commission last fall in which it received permission to proceed with CVOW, the company signed a stipulation agreeing to an extensive and diverse community outreach program. Eileen Woll, Offshore Energy Program Director for the Sierra Club’s Virginia Chapter, told me Dominion is following through on this pledge.

Woll is also part of a task force made up of academic and community groups from the Hampton Roads area that has developed a plan for community engagement and outreach to identify potential workers from harder-to-reach demographic groups. She told me the “Breaking Barriers” project team has applied for a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to fund their work.  

The Virginia booth at IPF. (Ivy Main)

Halting steps towards Virginia’s next project 

The Virginia Clean Economy Act made special provision for Dominion’s CVOW project as part of an overall target of 5,200 MW. If CVOW makes up 2,600 MW, where will the rest come from? A project under development off Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, would connect to the grid in Virginia Beach, but Dominion has shown no interest in buying the power; nor has Duke Energy. Dominion makes more money acting as its own developer. Huge energy users like the data centers operated by Amazon Web Services in Virginia could absorb all the energy from several Kitty Hawks, but Amazon hasn’t stepped up either.

Meanwhile, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has identified 1.7 million acres offshore North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware with potential for new leasing. The challenge is to make space for wind in an area already claimed by fishing interests, the Coast Guard, and the Department of Defense. If Virginia leaders are serious about building an enduring offshore wind industry here, they will have to engage in some tough negotiations.

For his part, Gov. Glenn Youngkin seems to be trying to ensure that the next Virginia project will be subject to competitive bidding to avoid a repeat of the process that made Dominion Energy the sole developer and holder of the only Virginia lease area. The governor amended an offshore wind bill from Sen. Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, that was something of a nothingburger as passed by the General Assembly. Youngkin’s amendment turns the legislation into a plan requiring Dominion to work with the State Corporation Commission and other government agencies on a competitive solicitation process for the next offshore wind project. 

There is no guarantee that this will work, given that BOEM awards leases to high bidders. But if BOEM offers multiple wind energy areas for lease near Virginia, and awards the leases to multiple developers, then an SCC-led competitive process seems feasible, with a better result for consumers.

The governor’s language may have been inspired by a House bill from Del. Suhas Subramanyam, D-Loudoun, that would have had the SCC study the ownership structure of offshore wind projects and report on how to achieve the best outcome for consumers. Republicans killed that bill, but presumably they will be more open to promoting competition when the idea comes from their own party. 

The General Assembly will consider the governor’s amendment when it reconvenes on April 12. Let’s hope his amendment indicates that Youngkin is ready and willing to start the next phase of Virginia’s offshore wind industry.

This article was originally published in the Virginia Mercury on April 10, 2023.

Is offshore wind expensive? Not compared to the alternatives

offshore wind turbines

A massive wind farm 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach moved one giant step closer to reality last November when Dominion Energy filed its Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind development plan with the State Corporation Commission. Dominion expects to begin construction on CVOW in 2024, and have all 2,587 megawatts of power connected to the grid in 2026.

But the wind farm’s price tag of $9.8 billion, and its $87 per megawatt hour levelized cost of electricity (LCOE), is causing heartburn over at the attorney general’s office. Scott Norwood, an expert for the Division of Consumer Counsel, criticized the project on three main grounds: that the cost of building CVOW is more than building a new nuclear reactor and 2-3 times as much as building solar facilities; that Dominion has overstated the benefits of the project; and that in any event, Dominion doesn’t need the energy before at least 2035. 

Recognizing that the General Assembly already made most of these points moot by declaring the project to be in the public interest, however, Norwood also recommended the SCC adopt consumer safeguards including periodic status reports and cost oversight. 

Anyone familiar with Dominion’s tendency to pad profits will say “Amen” to the call for strict SCC oversight. With a project this huge, the SCC must be especially vigilant.  Some of Norwood’s criticisms, however, seem more calculated for effect, while others miss the point. 

Norwood certainly knows his comment that CVOW is more expensive than nuclear is not true. The price tag of the only two nuclear reactors under development in the U.S. has ballooned so high ($30 billion and counting) that it almost makes Dominion’s former dream of a third nuclear reactor at North Anna look good. Norwood’s own devastating testimony likely helped kill the North Anna 3 project, which would have delivered electricity for $190 per megawatt-hour.

Norwood says Dominion has fudged the CVOW numbers and the project will cost customers more than the company admits, but still, Dominion would have to gold-plate every turbine before it could touch the cost of nuclear. 

This wasn’t the first time the General Assembly put its thumb on the scale for a Dominion project. The habit goes back to 2008, when a Dominion coal plant, the Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center, became the first project legislatively deemed “in the public interest.” Even back then its projected levelized cost of electricity was $93/MWh. Today, VCHEC loses so much money for customers that Dominion faces pressure at the SCC to close the plant. 

For that matter, I also see that my latest electricity bill from Dominion includes a non-bypassable charge for coal ash disposal of $5.68—an amount that exceeds the charges for participation in RGGI, new solar projects and the RPS program, combined. Pollution is also a cost of using fossil fuels, but it’s never included in the LCOE. 

Mr. Norwood did not suggest Dominion pursue new nuclear or new fossil fuel plants instead of offshore wind. If Dominion needed new generation, he says, solar is the low-cost alternative. It’s cheaper to build, and it produces electricity at a lower cost than offshore wind. He’s right: if all you cared about was LCOE, no one would build anything but solar in Virginia. 

But as critics never tire of pointing out, solar can’t provide electricity 24/7. Offshore wind has a hidden superpower: while solar production peaks in the middle of the day, the wind off our coast can produce electricity both day and night, is often strongest in the evening when demand rises, and is stronger in the winter when solar is less productive. Solar and offshore wind are complementary, and we can’t get to a carbon-free grid without both. So yes, we need CVOW.

Virginia’s leaders are also taking the long view on cost. In any new industry, early projects are more expensive than later ones. Europe’s 30 years of experience developing an offshore wind industry shows costs fall steadily as project experience and new technology enable developers to produce more energy with fewer turbines. States up and down the East Coast are pursuing offshore wind projects not only because they want clean energy, but because they expect these early investments to lead to lower-cost power as the industry achieves scale. 

State leaders also see economic development and job growth as important benefits, and those aren’t reflected in LCOE either. This is another area where SCC oversight can ensure the greatest public benefit from CVOW. Testimony filed by a Sierra Club expert urges that Dominion’s economic development plan be revised with specific metrics around the VCEA’s goals for diversity, equity and inclusion in the offshore wind workforce. Like reducing pollution, creating jobs for residents from low-income and minority communities adds to CVOW’s overall value.

Having criticized the VCEA’s overly-generous cost cap myself at the time, I agree with the AG’s office that the SCC has to keep a tight watch on expenses as Dominion moves forward with CVOW. But move forward it should, because Virginia needs offshore wind. 

This commentary originally appeared in the Virginia Mercury on April 1, 2022.

SCC rips into Dominion’s offshore wind pilot, approves it anyway

Photo credit: Phil Holman

The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) approved Dominion Energy Virginia’s proposed Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) project on Friday, but not happily. A press releasefrom the SCC complains about the project’s “excessive costs” and the way it is structured to make customers, rather than the developer, shoulder risks:

The offshore wind project consists of two wind turbines to be built by Dominion that would begin operating in December 2020. In its factual findings, the Commission determined that the company’s proposal puts “essentially all” of the risk of the project, including cost overruns, production and performance failures, on Dominion’s customers. Currently, the estimated cost of the project is at least $300 million, excluding financing costs.

The Commission found that the offshore wind project was not the result of a competitive bidding process to purchase power from third-party developers of offshore wind. Doing so would likely have put all or some of the risks on developers as has been done with other offshore wind projects along the East Coast of the United States. The Commission also found that any “economic benefits specific to [the project] are speculative, whereas the risks and excessive costs are definite and will be borne by Dominion’s customers.”

In spite of these harsh words, the SCC goes on to conclude that the language of the giant energy bill passed by the General Assembly last winter, SB 966, leaves regulators no choice but to approve CVOW:

The Commission concluded that the offshore wind project “would not be deemed prudent [under this Commission’s] long history of utility regulation or under any common application of the term.” However, the Commission ruled, as a matter of law, that recent amendments to Virginia laws that mandate that such a project be found to be “in the public interest” make it clear that certain factual findings must be subordinated to the clear legislative intent expressed in the laws governing the petition.

Obviously, the SCC has a point about the high cost of CVOW. Even Dominion agreed that if you just want 12 megawatts (MW) of power, you can get it a lot more cheaply than $300 million. The SCC’s Final Orderis even harsher on this topic. Moreover, the SCC doesn’t see any future for offshore wind as a matter of pure economics.

Nor is it all that reassuring that Dominion has said the price tag won’t have any impact on rates. What Dominion means is that we ratepayers have already paid for it, and as we aren’t going to get our money back anyway, we may as well enjoy seeing it put to use in building an offshore wind industry.

That’s where Dominion is (sort of) right, and the SCC (sort of) wrong. CVOW is the first step in the Northam administration’s plan to build an offshore wind industry in Virginia and install at least 2,000 MW of offshore wind turbines in the coming decade, a goal shared by many members of the General Assembly.

Northam says CVOW will lead to the commercial projects. Dominion says maybe, maybe not (“It’s too soon to have that conversation,” in the words of Dominion’s Katharine Bond). At any rate, it sure won’t happen without CVOW first.

Critics have said it’s silly to insist on a pilot project when other states are going forward with full-scale wind farms. That’s not entirely fair. As the first project in federal waters, the first in the Mid-Atlantic, and the first to be located 27 miles out to sea, CVOW’s two turbines will have much to teach the industry about offshore wind installation and performance in this part of the world. The whole U.S. offshore wind industry stands to benefit.

And also, Dominion has us over a barrel. Dominion holds the lease for the 2,000 MW; nobody else can come in and build it. So if Northam wants an offshore wind industry with thousands of new jobs, he has to do it Dominion’s way or not at all.

Clearly the SCC would choose not to do it at all. But then, the SCC has never shown any understanding of the climate crisis and the pressing need for Virginia to respond by developing as much wind and solar as possible, as rapidly as possible.

In the long term, we have to build out much more than 2,000 MW of offshore wind. As we do, and as costs decline in response to increasing economies of scale and technological improvements, the price tag of one pilot project will shrink in proportion to the billions of dollars flowing into the offshore wind industry and decarbonizing our electricity supply.

If it’s Dominion’s way or the highway, we have to do it Dominion’s way—for now—and then make sure it gets done.

No doubt the SCC would disagree. Yet to its credit, on Friday the SCC also approved Dominion’s purchase of power from a proposed 80-megawatt solar facility dubbed the “Water Strider” project. Unlike the offshore wind project, the solar project met the Commission’s prudency test because it involves a purchase from a private developer and followed a competitive bidding process. This resulted in a price to customers that the SCC felt is “in line with market rates.”

Though the Water Strider project looks like a clear winner for ratepayers, its approval wasn’t a foregone conclusion either. After a long history of approving one fossil fuel project after another, the SCC has belatedly begun to question Dominion’s projections about its need for more generation, at precisely the time when the new generation happens to be solar and wind.

For now, the SCC believes it must bow to the will of the General Assembly. For these two projects, that’s a good thing, but ratepayers will be in trouble if the SCC declines to assert its oversight authority in other filings under SB 966. Dominion wants to spend billions of dollars over the coming years on smart meters, software, burying power lines and other grid projects. Customers still need the SCC to make sure we get our money’s worth.

This article originally appeared in the Virginia Mercury

After the grid mod bill, the SCC wants to know how much authority it still has over utility spending

offshore wind turbines

Offshore wind turbines, Copenhagen, Denmark. Dominion Energy has asked the SCC for permission to proceed with building two wind turbines off the Virginia coast as a test project. Photo by Ivy Main.

It’s no secret the State Corporation Commission didn’t like this year’s big energy bill, the Grid Transformation and Security Act. SCC staff testified against SB 966 in committee, and their objections played a major role in amendments removing the “double dip” provision that would have let Dominion Energy Virginia double its earnings on infrastructure projects. Since passage of the bill, the SCC has raised questions about the constitutionality of the law’s provisions favoring in-state renewable energy, and its staff has issued broadsides about the costs of the legislation.

Now the SCC is mulling the question of how much authority it still has to reject Dominion’s proposals for spending under the bill. Dominion has filed for approval of a solar power purchase agreement (case number PUR-2018-00135) and two offshore wind test turbines it plans to erect in federal waters 24 nautical miles out from Virginia Beach (PUR-2018-00121). The utility has also requested permission to spend a billion dollars on grid upgrades and smart meters (PUR-2018-00100).

In an order issued September 12, the SCC asked participants in the solar and offshore wind cases to brief them on legal issues arising from the legislation. The SCC has focused in on two new sections of the Virginia Code. One is the language making it “in the public interest” for a utility to buy, build, or purchase the output of up to 5,000 megawatts (MW) of Virginia-based wind or solar by January 1, 2024. The SCC noted that subsection A of the provision says such a facility “is in the public interest, and the Commission shall so find if required to make a finding regarding whether such construction or purchase is in the public interest.”

The other new Code section gives a utility the right to petition the SCC at any time for a “prudency determination” for construction or purchase of a solar or wind project located in Virginia or off its coast, or for the purchase of the output of such a project if developed by someone else.

Together these sections give Dominion a good deal of latitude, but they don’t actually force the SCC to approve a project it thinks is a bad deal for ratepayers. In other words, wind and solar may be in the public interest, but that doesn’t mean every wind and solar project has to be approved.

The SCC asked for briefs on seven questions:

  • What are the specific elements that the utility must prove for the Commission to determine that the project is prudent under Subsection F?
  • Is the “prudency determination” in Subsection F different from the “public interest” findings mandated by Subsections A or E?
  • Do the public interest findings mandated by either Subsections A or E supersede a determination under Subsection F that a project is not prudent? If not, then what is the legal effect of either of the mandated public interest findings?
  • If the construction (or purchase or leasing) is statutorily deemed in the public interest, is there any basis upon which the Commission could determine that such action is not prudent? If so, identify such basis or bases.
  • In determining whether the project is prudent, can the Commission consider whether the project’s: (a) capacity or energy are needed; and (b) costs to customers are unreasonable or excessive in relation to capacity or energy available from other sources?
  • Do the statutorily-mandated public interest findings under either Subsections A or E override a factual finding that the project’s: (a) capacity or energy are not needed for the utility to serve its customers; and/or (b) costs to customers are unreasonable or excessive in relation to capacity or energy available from other sources, including but not limited to sources of a type similar to the proposed project?
  • Does the utility need a certificate of public convenience and necessity, or any other statutory approval from the Commission, before constructing the proposed projects?

Even if the Commission decides it has latitude in deciding which wind and solar projects to approve, that doesn’t necessarily spell disaster for the two projects at issue. The SCC could still decide they meet the standard for prudency and approve them.

Oral argument on the issues is scheduled for October 4.

Should approval of smart meters depend on how the meters will be used?

The SCC is also mulling over its authority in the grid modernization docket. One day after it asked lawyers in the solar and offshore wind cases to weigh in on the meaning of prudency, it issued a similar order asking for input on what the new law means by “reasonable and prudent” in judging spending under the grid modernization provisions. (Yes, the grid mod section of the law insists that spending be “reasonable” in addition to “prudent,” begging the question of whether spending can be prudent but not reasonable. Perhaps thankfully, the SCC order does not pursue it.)

The SCC’s questions to the lawyers show an interest in one especially important point: Dominion wants to spend hundreds of millions of dollars of customer money on smart meters, without using them smartly. Smart meters enable time-of-use rates and customer control over energy use, and make it easier to incorporate distributed generation like rooftop solar. None of these are in Dominion’s plan. Is it reasonable and prudent for Dominion to install the meters anyway, just because they are one of the categories of spending that the law allows?

Or as the SCC put it:

If the evidence demonstrates that advanced metering infrastructure enables time-of- use (also known as real-time) rates and that such (and potentially other) rate designs advance the stated purposes of the statute, i.e., they accommodate or facilitate the integration of customer-owned renewable electric generation resources and/or promote energy efficiency and conservation, may the Commission consider the inclusion or absence of such rate designs in determining whether a plan and its projected costs are reasonable and prudent?

Reading the tea leaves at the SCC: Staff comments on Dominion’s IRP

The SCC’s question about smart meters surely indicates how the commissioners feel about the matter: they’d like to reject spending on smart meters, at least until Dominion is ready to use them smartly. If the SCC concludes it has the authority to reject this part of Dominion’s proposal as not “reasonable and prudent,” it seems likely to do so.

It is harder to know where the SCC might land on the solar and offshore wind spending. The SCC’s staff, at least, are skeptical of Dominion’s plans to build lots of new solar generation. In response to Dominion’s 2018 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), Commission staff questioned whether Dominion was going to need any new electric generation at all, given the flattening out of demand. But if it does, according to the testimony of Associate Deputy Director Gregory Abbott, Dominion ought to consider a new combined-cycle (baseload) gas plant, not solar. (Combined-cycle gas was the one generating source Dominion almost completely ruled out.)

Abbott criticized Dominion’s presentation of the case for solar, though he took note of the technology’s dramatic cost declines. Instead of seeing that as a reason to invest, however, he suggested it would be better to wait for further cost declines, or at least leave the construction of solar to third-party developers who can provide solar power more cheaply than the utility can. Remarkably, he also suggested Dominion offer rebates to customers who install solar, urging that Dominion’s spending under the grid transformation law “is designed specifically to handle these [distributed energy resources].”

Abbott also seemed supportive of Dominion’s venture into offshore wind. The only offshore wind energy in the IRP is the 12 MW demonstration project known as CVOW, but as Abbott noted, “the Company indicated that it will pursue a much larger roll-out of utility-scale offshore wind, beginning in 2024, if the demonstration project shows it to be economic.”

This suggests staff are inclined to support Dominion’s spending on the CVOW project, but for Abbott, it was one more reason Dominion should not invest in solar. He concluded, “If the demonstration project proves that utility-scale offshore wind is economic compared to solar, then it may make sense to get the results of the CVOW demonstration project before deploying a large amount of solar.”

This post originally appeared in the Virginia Mercury on September 24.