The Commonwealth of Virginia Offshore Wind project will be among the first in the nation to use a new federal permitting process designed to accelerate offshore wind development in the United States. This comes as the Bureau of Offshore Energy Management (BOEM) and the North Atlantic Division of the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announced a new agreement that will give the agencies additional scientific and technical resources to evaluate offshore wind projects. The initiative, which was developed in partnership with Old Dominion University and facilitated by the Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy, will be critical to ensuring new offshore wind leases are approved in a timely manner.
While the agreement covers all renewable energy activities along the Atlantic Coast, the initial focus will be on the review of the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project and the Kitty Hawk Offshore Wind project in North Carolina. This partnership is critical to the success of the support to BOEM to facilitate federal reviews and assist in decision making on the growing number of offshore wind projects. This additional capacity will allow BOEM to focus on a broader range of challenges, including the development of additional offshore wind leases that will offer additional market opportunity and help secure the supply chain needed to reach renewable energy targets.
“Virginia has an opportunity to be a national leader in offshore wind production, which will power hundreds of thousands of homes in the Commonwealth while creating tens of thousands of jobs,” said U.S. Senator Mark Warner. “I am excited by the announcement between the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Army Corps of Engineers, and the Commonwealth of Virginia that will help streamline the permitting process for Virginia’s Commercial Offshore Wind project and potentially serve as a model for other future offshore wind projects in Virginia and across the nation.”
The permitting initiative was developed by retired Colonel Paul Olsen, a former USACE Norfolk District Commander who serves as the Executive Director of Programs and Partnerships in the Office of Research at Old Dominion University. His concept employs a seldom-used federal authority that allows the USACE to provide interagency assistance for critical infrastructure projects.