Hundreds of Atlantic Coast Groups Urge Continued Leadership for Offshore Wind

Media Contacts
Sarah Bucci

Environment Virginia

Richmond, Va – Offshore wind for Virginia is closer to reality than it’s ever been before, and the Obama administration deserves a lot of credit, said environmentalists, elected officials and local business owners today. The groups, including dozens of Virginia voices, joined together on a national letter to President Obama and his agency heads, urging them to continue their leadership in developing wind power off the Atlantic Coast. Many of the signatories sent a similar letter to Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe in June.

Virginia has incredible potential for offshore wind. The wind energy area leased to Dominion Virginia Power could produce power to supply 700,000 homes, enough to replace 3 or 4 large coal plants.

Virginia leaders, including Governor McAuliffe, have expressed strong support for offshore wind, but the state needs to do more to guarantee a market for the power. Other states like Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New York are moving forward, and Virginia should act soon to secure its own clean power and capture its share of the jobs and economic benefits that flow from the offshore wind industry. Studies have shown that a major commercial project could bring 10,000 jobs to Virginia.

After years of stalling, realizing this potential is within striking distance. Dominion and the State are pursuing a 2-turbine 12 MW project known as Virginia Offshore Wind Technology Advancement Project (VOWTAP) that would be adjacent to the lease area 24 miles off of Virginia Beach. This project has been delayed by a year and is now projected to come on line in 2018.

David Carr, General Counsel of Southern Environmental Law Center, maintains that “while the 2-turbine demonstration project is a good first step, it is critical that the large commercial project move forward in the near term so that Virginia can capture the vast clean power resource from offshore wind, and secure the significant economic benefits arising from this industry.”

Momentum is building for offshore wind up and down the Atlantic Coast. This summer, construction began at the nation’s first offshore wind farm off the Rhode Island coast, near Block Island. At the same time, the Obama administration has awarded nine commercial wind leases totaling over 700,000 acres in federal waters up and down the Atlantic Coast, including one off the coast of Virginia Beach. The White House also recently announced a multi-state project with New York, Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island that will lay important groundwork for offshore wind along the Atlantic coast.

The year so far has “marked a major milestone in America’s pursuit of offshore wind power, with our first project finally under construction off the coast of Rhode Island,” said the letter. “We are counting on your leadership to ensure that [the Block Island offshore wind farm] is truly the beginning of a new energy chapter for America.”

The letter lauded the Clean Power Plan, which Virginia leaders are developing a compliance plan for, and noted that “additional leadership is needed to maintain momentum and ensure that offshore wind power plays a major role in states’ plans to reduce pollution and shift to clean energy.”

“The United States can move towards a clean energy future in which offshore wind plays a major role and Virginia can be an important leader” said Sarah Bucci, State Director of Environment Virginia. “The Obama Administration, along with Governor McAuliffe, can ensure that we reach the next clean energy frontier by showing strong leadership in support of offshore wind.”


Environment Virginia is a state-wide, citizen-funded environmental advocacy organization working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future.

The Southern Environmental Law Center is a regional nonprofit using the power of the law to protect the health and environment of the Southeast (Virginia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama). Founded in 1986, SELC’s team of about 60 legal and policy experts represent more than 100 partner groups on issues of climate change and energy, air and water quality, forests, the coast and wetlands, transportation, and land use.