Friday, July 1, 2022

Town hall meetings to discuss potential of wind energy in Hampton Roads

Deepwater Wind's five test turbines off Rhode Island, the first in the nation. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Sierra Club of Virginia)
Deepwater Wind’s five test turbines off Rhode Island, the first in the nation. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Sierra Club of Virginia)

You can never be sure which way the wind will blow, so when you need to take advantage of the wind’s direction, it’s important to act quickly.

At least according to Eileen Woll, offshore energy program director with the Sierra Club.

Woll and the Sierra Club of Virginia have arranged two town hall meetings in Hampton Roads aimed at promoting the development of offshore wind energy by the state and growing activists in an effort to push the state’s leadership into quick action.

“As offshore wind developers consider the Atlantic Coast for their development operations, they need the assurances that projects will move forward,” Woll said. “Virginia must provide that certainty by securing Dominion’s commitment to building its commercial lease area within the next 10 years and by exacting a plan to beef up our port infrastructure and facilities in Hampton Roads.”

Woll said in accordance with the Code of Virginia, every four years the governor must produce an energy plan for the commonwealth. For Gov. Ralph Northam, the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy will administer its development, which will include public listening sessions throughout the summer.

The final energy plan is due to be completed this year by Oct. 1.

“When it comes to offshore energy plans, we have a friend in Gov. Northam,” she said. “He has been a strong opponent to offshore drilling, and unlike his predecessor’s, Northam’s energy plan will undoubtedly not include offshore drilling activities.”

However, Woll said that at the moment, the governor is “just dipping his toes in the water,” but realizing the vast potential of this resource very quickly.

The first town hall meeting will take place at 7 p.m. July 23 at Museum of Contemporary Art in Virginia Beach.

The second will be at 7 p.m. July 30 at the McGrew Towers Conference Center in Hampton.

Those who attend will learn about the benefits of offshore wind and its clean energy impacts, as well as the potential economic impacts. Among speakers confirmed so far are Will Payne from the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, and Casey Reeves from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

“In Europe, offshore wind projects are generating electricity at a cost that is less than or equal to the price of conventional energy like gas, coal and oil,” Woll said.  “It’s only a matter of time before U.S. offshore wind does the same, as each year hundreds of offshore wind megawatts come online.”

It’s time, she said, for Virginia to wake up and start realizing its own clean energy future.

This story was published in partnership with our sister publication, HNNDaily. 

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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