AG sees ‘risks’ to customers from costly offshore wind farm

FILE - In this Aug. 15, 2016 file photo, three of Deepwater Wind's five turbines stand in the water off Block Island, R.I, the nation's first offshore wind farm. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland says the Biden administration will hold lease sales for up to seven offshore wind farms on the East and West coasts and in the Gulf of Mexico in the next four years. The projects are part of the administration's plan to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030, generating enough electricity to power more than 10 million homes. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

RICHMOND, Va. — The office of the Virginia Attorney General has told state regulators that Dominion Energy has overstated the economic benefits of a proposed offshore wind farm, warning of “significant risks” to customers from the costly project.

The analysis came in a Friday filing with the State Corporation Commission, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

The commission is considering Richmond-based Dominion’s plans for the approximately $9.8 billion, 180-turbine wind farm off the coast of Virginia Beach. Hearings in the case are scheduled for May, and public comment is open now.

The Attorney General’s Division of Consumer Counsel submitted written testimony from a Texas-based energy consultant, Scott Norwood.

Norwood’s testimony said the wind project was not needed to serve the company’s capacity requirements through at least 2035 and that the capital costs of the project were two to three times the cost of solar resources, the newspaper reported. It also said Dominion’s forecasted economic benefits were based on an analysis that overstated the benefits.

Because of the high fixed costs and “significant risks posed to customers,” the testimony said, the commission should require Dominion to file status reports on the performance and cost of the project through construction and at least its first year of commercial operations.

Norwood also recommended that Dominion be required to immediately notify the commission of delays or cost increases.

Company spokesperson Jeremy Slayton told the newspaper in a statement that “offshore wind is good for energy security and the Virginia economy and environment.” He also said the “zero fuel costs of Virginia offshore wind are more valuable than ever given today’s rising fuel costs.”

State officials hope Virginia — with its workforce and infrastructure that already support a port and several shipyards — can become an Atlantic coast hub for the growing offshore wind industry.