Event discusses why Virginia needs offshore wind energy

sierra club virginiaAbout 100 people attended an town hall on offshore wind on Monday, July 30 at the McGrew Towers Conference Center at Hampton University in Hampton, hosted by the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter. The event discussed the development and promise of offshore wind, and its associated industries and potential careers, in Virginia.

A panel of government, environmental and business experts each presented, spoke on and answered questions about how to move forward with Virginia offshore wind development. Moderated by Adam Forrer, the Atlantic Region Manager for the Southeastern Wind Coalition, panelists included Eileen Woll, Offshore Energy Program Director for the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter, Casey Reeves, Project Manager for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, David Harriss, Director of Break-Bulk Sales & Services at the Port of Virginia, Anna Fendley, Legislative Representative at United Steelworkers.

“It’s time for Virginia to fully embrace offshore wind,” Eileen Woll, Offshore Energy Program Director with the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter, said. “Hampton Roads is uniquely suited to become a hub for the offshore wind industry. By locating here, the industry will create thousands of career jobs for residents while reducing the worst effects of climate change, like sea-level rise.”

A lively discussion with the moderator following the presentations further vetted questions involving next steps for Virginia’s offshore wind development, including potential economic incentives used to attract industry businesses and the policy landscape shaping offshore wind in Virginia.

“Virginia is taking all the right steps to capitalize on this new industry,” Adam Forrer, Atlantic Region Manager for the Southeastern Wind Coalition, said. “The state has the potential to attract thousands of jobs if part of the offshore wind supply chain locates in Virginia. This momentum has to continue if Virginia wants to attract part of the industry.”

The town hall discussion came at a pivotal time as a number of initiatives, plans and projects move forward. Offshore wind will be a focus of Governor Northam’s Energy Plan, due October 1.

“As a retired medical doctor, I know first hand the effects air pollution can have on human health,” Dr. Angela Herring of Newport News, said. “We must transition as quickly as possible to clean and renewable energy sources. From what I learned at the town hall, offshore wind offers Virginia one of the best opportunities to reduce harmful emissions and help the Hampton Roads community become more energy independent.”

Other developments on offshore wind are on the horizon. Dominion Energy is anticipated to file for approval with state regulators for its previously announced two test turbine project within the next few weeks. And due in fall of 2018, the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy will release a strategic plan to position the Commonwealth as a prime location for the offshore wind supply chain and service industry.

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