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Offshore Wind Turbine Project Faces Challenges


Virginia’s energy-providers would still like to see a large-scale commercial offshore wind turbine project off the state's coast by the year 2020, but getting there is challenging—at best.  Bids to build two pilot turbines are astronomical right now, and the Authority tasked to keep the project's momentum going is looking for ways to significantly lower costs. 

Dominion Virginia Power's David Botkins explains that this pilot project would cost an estimated 400-million dollars plus additional expenditures if there's some kind of mishap during construction or transport of materials.

"So this is a 12 megawatt project. 12 times 250 would essentially be the number of homes that it would power. That's not a lot when you look at the 400-million dollar price tag."

Botkins says yielding so little power at that cost means the State Corporation Commission will likely not be able to justify a consumer rate increase to pay for the expenditures. But the Virginia Offshore Wind Development Authority is not scrapping the project.  Botkins says it's just taking a slightly different approach.

"To create a larger stakeholder process going forward to do more study and evaluation and information gathering in an attempt to drive these costs down even further."

That would include getting input from nations with more experience with offshore wind projects and possibly entering into partnerships with competing utilities.  

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