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State regulators approve Dominion Energy offshore wind farm plans

two offshore wind turbines
Dominion estimates the wind farm will cost almost $10 billion. (File photo: Katherine Hafner/WHRO)

Dominion Energy's multi-billion-dollar plan to build about 175 wind turbines off Virginia's coast got crucial approval from state regulators last week.

The company filed its application with the State Corporation Commission last year. It’s been a long process since then, with legal back-and-forths between environmental groups, state officials and others.

The SCC’s new order approves an agreement Dominion reached with the office of Attorney General Jason Miyares that outlines who must pay for the billions of dollars the project is expected to cost.

Dominion plans to build 176 wind turbines 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. Company officials say it will generate enough energy to power up to 660,000 homes.

Earlier this year, the SCC issued a consumer protection standard for the wind farm, binding Dominion to its projected energy production — If the utility failed to produce those levels, it could not charge customers for any energy needed to replace the shortfalls.

This week’s agreement nixes that standard.

Dominion estimates the wind farm will cost almost $10 billion. The new SCC order notes total costs will be more than double that.

“The magnitude of this project is so great that it will likely be the costliest project being undertaken by any regulated utility in the United States,” regulators wrote.

Dominion will pass on the whole construction cost of the project to customers if it stays within its own estimate.

If it ends up costing between $10.3 billion and $11.3 billion, the company will split the bill with customers.

If the project goes above that – up to $13.7 billion — Dominion has to foot the bill. Any higher costs go back to the SCC for further discussion.

The typical Virginia customer is expected to see monthly bill increases of $5 to $14 starting over the next few years to pay for the project.

Read the original story on WHRO's website.

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