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Port of Virginia Expands Dominion Energy Lease to Create Wind Port

Portsmouth terminal lease to Dominion to become wind port
Portsmouth Marine Terminal (in the foreground) will become a pre-assembly and staging area for the wind farm (Port of Virginia file photo)

Published Aug 26, 2021 5:51 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Port of Virginia reached an agreement to lease a dramatically increased portion of the Portsmouth Marine Terminal to Dominion Energy. The agreement, which positions the port to become a leader in the emerging offshore wind energy sector, puts to use an idle terminal area converting it into a large pre-assembly and staging area for the planned wind farm off the Virginia coast. Previously, the port had agreed to a lease to create a small staging area.

Under the new agreement, Dominion Energy will use 72 acres of the deep-water, multi-use marine cargo Portsmouth Marine Terminal as a staging and pre-assembly area for the foundations and turbines that will be installed 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. Expected to be in service by the mid-decade, the Virginia wind project will produce more than 2,600 megawatts of renewable energy.

“This announcement is yet another milestone toward making Virginia the national leader in offshore wind power,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “The Commonwealth and Dominion Energy are standing together to promote clean energy, reduce carbon emissions, create jobs, and build a new American industry on the East Coast of the United States.”

The lease term is 10 years—valued at nearly $4.4 million annually—and includes an option for two five-year renewals. In January 2020, Virginia had agreed to a lease for 1.7 acres at the Portsmouth Marine Terminal through 2026, with options to expand to 40 acres. The original plan called for the terminal to operate solely as a staging area.

The Port of Virginia, however, in May 2020, closed the terminal saying that it did not have enough volume to warrant the operation of the facility. Traffic from the 2M Alliance shifted to two other terminals in the Norfolk area.

“This location at the Port of Virginia is second to none,” said chair, president and CEO of Dominion Energy Robert M. Blue. “It has deep water access, no overhead restrictions, a strong, experienced maritime workforce and sufficient space for these large wind infrastructure components. It is perfectly situated to serve the Virginia offshore wind project and grow the domestic supply chain needed to complete other offshore wind projects in the United States.”

The new lease agreement includes significant upgrades to ensure the terminal can handle the weight of the large components that will be deployed to build the offshore wind turbines. Once the components are loaded onto ships, the vessels will travel to the installation site off Virginia Beach.

Presently, Dominion Energy’s two-turbine pilot project is operating off of the coast of Virginia Beach. Last month, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management issued a “Notice of Intent” for the full commercial project. The Notice of Intent triggers a federal review of the project and preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement, which will take about two years.