Sunday, November 27, 2022

Town hall meetings to discuss wind energy potential

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 complete 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 in Virginia Beach on July 23 at 7 p.m., at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

The second at July 30, also at 7 p.m., will take place in Hampton at the McGrew Towers Conference Center.

Those who attend will learn about the benefits of offshore wind and its clean energy impacts, as well as the potential economic impacts. Woll said a number of speakers have been invited. Among the 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.

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