Virginia issues solicitation tied to offshore wind strategies

Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia on May 22 said that the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy has posted a request for proposals seeking qualified contractors to help deploy strategies aimed at strengthening Virginia’s position in attracting the offshore wind supply chain and service industry to the state.

The RFP notes that is seeking expertise in offshore wind (OSW) development, particularly as it relates to the industry supply chain, port infrastructure requirements, build-out of the various OSW supply chain sectors, and long-term maritime service needs.

The selected contractor will develop a final report that provides an analysis of Virginia’s current maritime infrastructure and assets, identifies how to leverage Virginia’s advantages, and provides recommendations on alleviating barriers, including executive actions, regulatory changes, and statutory changes.

The RFP also notes that the final documents will serve as a partnership tool to connect industry prospects with Virginia’s robust maritime industry located in Hampton Roads, Va. “provide a summary of Virginia’s unique advantages; communicate OSW-related workforce development and business incentive efforts underway; identify competitive gaps and make recommendations; and educate state and local economic development and energy policy leaders.

The deliverables outlined in the RFP include:

  • Developing an analysis of Virginia’s existing maritime infrastructure and assets. This work will build on the 2015 Virginia Offshore Wind Port Readiness Evaluation that examined the general readiness of Virginia’s port terminals to host manufacturing and fabrication activities, staging, and subsea power cabling prior to offshore transport. The analysis will involve surveying and interviewing a collection of companies located in and around coastal Virginia;
  • Providing a summary of Virginia’s unique advantages, including location, access, maritime assets, and business climate. The 2015 evaluation identified a number of Virginia’s unique advantages that make it a location of choice for the OSW supply chain to produce and stage various specific OSW components, namely wind turbines and towers, foundation substructures, submarine power cables, and offshore substation platforms, the RFP said. The contractor’s final report will confirm and update these findings;
  • Developing an analysis that identifies any market barriers to the deployment of the OSW supply chain. This analysis will evaluate the potential to leverage existing and new economic incentives, a review of workforce development programs and needs, and recommendations for coordination amongst state, regional, local, and industry partners. The analysis will include a review of best practices that may be either implemented or expanded in Virginia. The analysis will identify policy gaps and provide recommendations on how to strengthen Virginia’s position regarding business incentives, workforce training, cross-sector coordination, and any other financial or policy incentive that will strengthen Virginia’s commitment to the OSW industry.

“Significant potential” for development of offshore wind resources

The RFP notes that Virginia has significant potential for the development of OSW resources off its coast. Virginia has the only research lease for offshore renewable energy awarded by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). A two-turbine, 12 megawatt (MW) demonstration project is slated for development in this research lease, and the project is currently in the final stages of BOEM approval with a 2020 target completion date. This demonstration project is the precursor to the full-scale build out of the 112,000-acre Wind Energy Area located approximately 23.5 miles offshore from the Virginia Beach coastline. The federal lease for this Wind Energy Area was executed in November 2013 with Dominion Virginia Power, which is an investor-owned utility. The full build-out of this Wind Energy Area has the potential to produce up to 2,000 MW of wind generation, according to the RFP.

The solicitation said that the state’s “rich history of support” for the development of OSW energy resources began with the 2007 founding of the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium, which was created to serve as an interdisciplinary study, research, and information resource for the state on coastal energy issues. It provides the research and development required for the commercialization and implementation of renewable energy, specifically OSW and wave resources in Virginia.

Virginia’s General Assembly passed legislation during the 2018 session that has the potential to further expand the OSW industry in Virginia. The legislation deems 5,000 MW of utility-scale solar and wind resources to be in the public interest, including the 12 MW demonstration project. Northam signed the legislation, and it becomes law on July 1, 2018.

Proposals in response to the RFP must be submitted by June 22, 2018.

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Other states move on offshore wind

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Jan. 29 released a comprehensive New York State offshore wind master plan that sets forth the state’s strategy for meeting its goal of having 2,400 MW of offshore wind energy generation by 2030.

On January 31 of this year, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order directing the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to fully implement a piece of legislation signed into law by then-Gov. Chris Christie in 2010 and begin the process of moving the state toward a goal of 3,500 MW of offshore wind energy generation by 2030.

On May 23, Murphy signed into law legislation that, among other things, codifies the governor’s goal of having 3,500 MW of offshore wind by 2030. It also reinstates an expired tax credit program for offshore wind manufacturing activities.

In April 2018, the BOEM announced plans to launch a high-level assessment of potential wind farm sites in the Atlantic. BOEM has completed 13 offshore wind leases off the coasts of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina.

Meanwhile, on May 23, it was disclosed that investor-owned utilities in Massachusetts have selected Vineyard Wind to move forward to contract negotiations for the procurement of 800 MW of offshore wind energy and Rhode Island has selected Deepwater Wind, a Rhode Island-based clean energy developer, to construct a new, 400-MW offshore wind farm.