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Advocates supporting offshore wind call for Dominion to invest in local workers

wind turbines in ocean
Two of the offshore wind turbines that have been constructed off the coast of Virginia Beach are seen on Monday, June 29, 2020. Virginia-based Dominion Energy seeks to build what it calls the country’s largest offshore wind farm in the Atlantic Ocean. (Photo: Steve Helber/AP)

The State Corporation Commission is evaluating Dominion Energy’s plans for a wind energy project off the coast of Virginia Beach. It’s slated to be the largest wind farm nationwide and will play an important part in Virginia's goal of getting its energy producers off fossil fuels in the next three decades.

The Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project is set to be a massive undertaking; Dominion estimates it will cost about 9.8 billion to get it off the ground. Nearly 950 workers are needed to manufacture and install the turbines, and clean energy and labor advocates, represented by the BlueGreen Alliance, are calling for state regulators to ensure that local workers are hired for those jobs.

Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) spoke this week at a webinar hosted by BlueGreen. She said CVOW will bring long-term jobs as more coastal states start their own offshore wind programs.

“This project is going to be a lightning rod to spur manufacturing here in Hampton Roads,” McClellan said.

The Virginia Clean Economy Act, which McClellan sponsored in 2020, requires developers to prioritize local workers when filling those jobs.

BlueGreen Alliance is asking Virginians to tell the SCC they support Dominion’s offshore wind project - but also want a stronger workforce and local economic development plan from the company. They’re also calling for regulators to work with the company over time on setting and meeting employment benchmarks.

State regulators and the attorney general’s office have both criticized Dominion’s plan, saying it doesn’t account for the full economic cost of the project. The VCEA requires the SCC to approve 5,200 megawatts of offshore wind capacity - about double what CVOW will produce - by 2035.

The SCC is taking written comment on the project until May 16.