Monday, February 7, 2011

Virginia well-suited for offshore wind energy production

RICHMOND- At a morning press conference in Norfolk, United States Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and United States Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar unveiled the official coordinated strategic plan for offshore wind energy development in the United States. The McDonnell Administration was represented at the event by Secretary of Commerce and Trade Jim Cheng and Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Domenech. Governor Bob McDonnell issued the following statement regarding the announcement.

“Cost effective development of Virginia’s offshore wind resources is one important component of our overall effort to make Virginia, “The Energy Capital of the East Coast.” We must generate more of our electricity from our domestic resources. That means utilizing a diverse portfolio of fuels, including nuclear, coal, oil and natural gas, as well as biomass, offshore and onshore wind, and solar. At the same time we must also maintain reasonable energy costs and a reliable, consistent supply. This Administration is focused on balancing these two important considerations.

It was fitting that Secretary Chu and Secretary Salazar chose the Commonwealth for today’s announcement. Virginia is uniquely positioned to lead the nation in the development of a reliable domestic offshore wind energy industry that produces affordable energy for our homes and businesses. The waters off of Virginia are well-suited for offshore wind energy production. The gradual slope of the continental shelf, consistent wind speeds, and proximity to existing transmission infrastructure make this area a prime location. Further, the Port of Hampton Roads offers the deep water and lack of maritime impediments necessary for the production and shipping of wind turbines.

We are pleased that Secretary Salazar included Virginia in his designation of offshore wind areas. And we applaud the decision to substantially shorten the permitting process in a way that will allow project developers to attract the investment necessary to support offshore wind projects. Virginia stands ready to compete for the dollars the Department of Energy plans to invest in research and technology development needed to reduce the cost of offshore wind energy. Unfortunately, the high cost of offshore wind energy is currently one of the major barriers to utility scale development of this resource in this country. However, those costs can be reduced with next generation technologies and supply chain efficiencies.

The Virginia Offshore Wind Development Authority, created by General Assembly legislation last year, is perfectly equipped and positioned to develop proposals that will make the most of Virginia’s extensive and unique offshore wind assets. Commercially practicable and affordable offshore wind energy will bring economic growth and new jobs to the Commonwealth. I thank Secretary Chu and Secretary Salazar for traveling to Norfolk to make today’s announcement, and look forward to continuing to work with them on this issue in the years ahead.”

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Politics, State Politics

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