Ocean bureau seeks comment on EA for Virginia offshore wind project

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) covering a wind energy-related research project offshore of Virginia backed by Virginia Electric and Power.

This research was proposed by the Virginia Department of Mines, Mineral, and Energy (DMME), the bureau said in a notice to be published in the Dec. 2 Federal Register. The purpose of this notice is to inform the public of the availability of the EA and to solicit public comment on the EA for a 30-day public comment period. A public information meeting will be held on Dec. 17 at the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

On Dec. 6, 2013, BOEM issued a Determination of No Competitive Interest for a research lease requested by the DMME. DMME subsequently submitted a research activities plan (RAP) that describes the proposed construction, operation, maintenance, and eventual decommissioning of Virginia Offshore Wind Technology Advancement Project (VOWTAP).

The proposed project would consist of two 6-MW wind turbine generators (WTGs), a 34.5-kV AC submarine cable interconnecting the WTGs (inter-array cable), a 34.5-kV AC submarine transmission cable (export cable), and a 34.5-kV underground cable (onshore interconnection cable) that would connect the proposed project with existing infrastructure located in the City of Virginia Beach. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is proposing to provide funding in support of VOWTAP and is participating as a cooperating agency in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process.

On March 14, 2014, BOEM published a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an EA in the Federal Register. BOEM used the input from this scoping process to solicit information regarding important environmental issues and alternatives that should be considered in the EA. BOEM is now seeking public input on the EA, including comments on the completeness and adequacy of the environmental analysis. BOEM will consider public comments on the EA in determining whether to issue a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), or conduct additional analysis under the NEPA.

Virginia Electric and Power, a wholly owned subsidiary of Dominion Resources (NYSE: D), would be the owner and operator of VOWTAP and would work under the terms of an operator agreement with DMME and the terms of a Section 238 Research lease. DMME requested that BOEM work directly with Dominion on the review leading to approval of the RAP, as well as any associated environmental reviews.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.