Dominion Energy formally began construction on the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) project July 1, which will bring a new source of renewable energy to Virginia customers.

The company is breaking ground to install a half-mile conduit, which will hold the final stretch of cables connecting the turbines 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach to a company substation near Camp Pendleton. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, other elected officials, stakeholders and media were invited to the groundbreaking on July 1 to mark the beginning of onshore construction activities for the CVOW project.

This activity marks the first work at the project site to facilitate interconnection of the two 6-megawatt wind turbines which will power 3,000 homes at peak. Wind is part of a broader effort to deliver renewable energy, including solar, as part of Dominion's commitment to reduce carbon emissions, the company said. Commercial scale offshore wind development would have the potential to power 500,000 homes with more than 2,000 MW of zero-carbon, renewable energy. Dominion Energy anticipates $1.1 billion in offshore wind investments through 2023.

"These onshore construction activities are another major milestone in our plan to bring offshore wind to the Commonwealth and are a sign of our commitment to bring more renewable energy to our customers," said Dominion Energy's chairman, president and CEO Thomas F. Farrell, II.

"The Virginia offshore wind demonstration project is another powerful example of the commonwealth's position as a leader in renewable energy," said Gov. Northam. "As the first deployment of commercial-scale offshore wind turbines in federal waters, I am thrilled that Virginia's project will help determine best practices for future offshore wind construction along the East Coast."

The project was announced two years ago and is the only fully permitted offshore wind project in U.S. federal waters. Last November, the State Corporation Commission approved the project and the majority of required permits and approvals have been received. The construction process is on a strict timetable, in order to minimize environmental impacts to the sea bottom and aquatic life. Observers will be present during the offshore construction activities to look for protected species in the area. If protected species are located within an exclusion zone, work will be stopped.

While onshore construction is underway, residents and visitors may notice a barge performing construction activities approximately half a mile off the Virginia Beach coast from July through September 2019. The turbines will not be noticeable from shore once construction is completed in 2020.

Ørsted, a offshore wind developer headquartered in Denmark, has been contracted for the offshore portion of the project. The L.E. Myers Co. will perform onshore construction work. Customers will see no increase in rates for the pilot project under the provisions of the Grid Transformation and Security Act of 2018, as the project will be recovered in existing base rates rather than a rider. The CVOW project is on-schedule and on-budget, Dominion said.