The U.S. Department of the Interior just completed an auction for a second tract of ocean off the U.S. east coast for the purpose of wind farming. The previous auction for an area of over 150,000 acres off the coast of Massachusetts was purchased for $3.8 million by a hedge-fund backed venture. The latest sale was for a little over 110,000 acres of ocean about 27 miles off the coast of Virginia. The winning bid for $1.8 million was placed by a Virginian subsidiary of Dominion Resources, an energy provider known for coal-fired power plants.
The move by a coal giant like Dominion to pursue wind energy highlights the country’s never-ending thirst for power while alternative methods as well as shale gas compete with the tried and true crude oil being piped all over North America.
The government estimates the Virginia area could produce 2,000 megawatts of electricity or enough to provide for 700,000 homes. To put that in perspective, Dominion recently built a coal-fired plant in Virginia capable of producing only 600 megawatts of power. In all the Department of Energy believes the nation could produce 54 gigawats of electricity via wind power by 2030, or enough to provide for 18 million homes. For now, the offshore endeavors are in development stages as companies like Dominion plan and test the necessary technology in hopes of having offshore turbines online within a decade.
Dominion is currently developing two six-megawatt pilot turbines through a grant from the Department of Energy at a site adjacent to the lease. The company expects to have the test turbines up and running by 2017 in what will be its first wind power project. Dominion estimates it will be 10 years before it puts any turbines on the plot it won Wednesday.