The Commonwealth of Virginia’s current population is approximately 8.53 million people. The power plants in Virginia use natural gas (55.7%), nuclear power (27.2%), coal (10.6%) and renewable energy (6.4%) to generate electricity across the state.
Virginia’s from fossil fuels (coal and natural gas) to wind and solar energy has been exceedingly compared to states like California, Texas and Oklahoma. However, the Virginia General Assembly approved on March 2, 2018 a groundbreaking energy bill that will vault the state forward in the use of renewable energy, saving consumers money and modernizing the power grid. The key components of Virginia’s landmark legislation are as follows:
1. Commits to the development of 5,000 MW of new solar and wind projects
2. Opens up the state’s growing solar market to non-utility businesses.
3. Commits over $1 billion in investments in energy efficiency programs.
4. Improves energy efficiency review processes within the state utilities.
5. Designates an offshore wind project to be in “the public interest.”
6. Designates large solar parks of up to 50 MW capacity to be in “the public interest.”
7. Opens the way for the development of battery storage pilot projects.
Virginia legislators have now announced the approval of a two-turbine offshore wind project, which will be located approximately 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. Dominion Energy will invest $300 million on this pilot project. Dominion Energy is a major power and energy company, headquartered in Richmond, Virginia. The offshore wind pilot project will be developed by Ørsted A/S, a major power company, headquartered in Fredericia, Denmark. Ørsted is the largest offshore wind farm company in the world with projects in Europe and Asia.
The first offshore wind farm in the United States began operations off the coast of Rhode Island in December 2016. Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Rhode Island have all begun work on new offshore wind projects. Although Virginia’s offshore wind pilot project has small power capacity, it is a very important step in the state’s move from fossil fuels to renewable energy.