We tout Virginia’s East Coast location as both a premium tourism destination and an economic development plus. For tourists, Virginia offers beautiful beaches and an oasis for water sports enthusiasts. But Virginia’s geographic fortune, particularly in the Hampton Roads region, also lends itself to an industry that is growing in importance. Our coastal seat is a cream-of-the-crop location for offshore wind projects.
The Hampton Roads region is well positioned to become a hub for offshore wind supply. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Virginia offers a class 6 (outstanding) wind power classification within 10-15 miles of shore and within close proximity to major power demand centers. The risk of major hurricane strikes is minimal in the Commonwealth, which boasts a robust coastal transmission grid, and Virginia is one of only 10 states to possess a shallow water resource base, which is important for turbine placement.
Class 6 winds are located virtually beyond the visual horizon, so those folks who loathe the idea of a turbine view need not worry. They would barely be seen, even on the clearest of days.
Virginia and its partners are working to leverage the Commonwealth’s assets to become a leading provider of wind energy. University partners, including James Madison University, Old Dominion University, William & Mary (VIMS), the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech are engaged in wind research and development, as are corporate partners such as Dominion Power, AREVA, GE Energy, SAIC, and NASA Langley Research Center. Most recently, Dabney S. Lancaster Community College began assembling a wind energy turbine technician training curriculum that covers everything from wind safety to turbine troubleshooting and repair. The college plans to offer the curriculum in 2010.
When the companies come a knockin, we hope to be ready. The Commonwealth’s wind potential is already attracting attention from energy industry leaders such as AREVA, a major Virginia employer that is seeking a location for future wind turbine manufacturing plants. In a recent Daily Press article (http://www.dailypress.com/news/dp-local_windfarm_0904sep04,0,7182547.story) , it was estimated that construction of 100 wind turbines off of Virginia’s coast could create 8,000-10,000 new jobs. How’s that? Turbine manufacturers want to be close to their client.
Wise County in Southwest Virginia last week approved BP Wind Energy’s and Dominion’s plans to move forward with construction of a wind farm within its borders. Nearby Tazewell County is considering a similar proposal. The Southwest region of the Commonwealth provides class 4 (good) wind.
We look forward to working with energy prospects to leverage the potential of our wind—regardless of the region. For more information about VEDP’s energy industry efforts, visit www.YesVirginia.org.