Federal shutdown holds up offshore wind energy lease

Source: BY PETER BACQUÉ Richmond Times-Dispatch • Posted: Friday, October 11, 2013

 Shutdown stops federal unit from taking papers of Dominion Va. Power

Dominion Virginia Power has won approval of its $1.6 million bid to lease nearly 113,000 offshore acres for wind power development.

But the federal government shutdown is holding up finalizing the lease, the company said Wednesday.

The company is prepared to sign and send it to the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Richmond-based company said.

However, Dominion Virginia Power is holding off doing that until officials at the bureau are available to receive the documents.

According to the bureau’s website, renewable energy activities, including management of lease programs, ceased with the shutdown: “BOEM will be unable to process any applications or regulatory submittals for the renewable energy program.”

“Dominion is prepared to comply with our obligations as soon as the shutdown ends,” a company spokesman said.

The company had been waiting for the Justice Department to review the bid for antitrust considerations. The Justice Department raised no objections, clearing the way for the lease to be signed.

In the next step for the wind area’s development, Dominion Virginia Power has six months to present its site assessment plan to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

Virginia’s largest electric utility beat out one other bidder in a Sept. 4 auction to win the nation’s second lease of ocean floor dedicated to the development of towering wind turbines.

Fully developed, the 112,799-acre lease could generate 2,000 megawatts, which would be enough energy to power more than 700,000 homes, according to the federal agency.

Dominion Virginia Power puts the number of homes that could be powered by the wind farm at about 500,000.

“Dominion is actively developing the large-scale commercial offshore wind generation,” the company said in a statement. “We are fully committed to this development effort.”

The power company has said it expects the first wind turbine to be installed in about 10 years, assuming the project gains necessary federal and state approvals.

The wind energy area is located in the Atlantic Ocean about 27 miles from the Virginia Beach shoreline.

Dominion Virginia Power serves more than 2.3 million customers in the state.