Virginia Offshore Wind Developers Explored (ANALYSIS)

Editor’s Note: EarthTechling is proud to repost this article courtesy of Offshore Wind Wire. Author credit goes to Todd Griset.

The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is reviewing expressions of interest by eight potential offshore wind developers in leasing sites on the outer continental shelf off Virginia.

These eight companies responded to BOEM’s February 2012 Call for Information and Nominations for Virginia, a formal request for comments and expressions of interest in developing offshore wind facilities in federal waters off Virginia. The eight respondents range from well-established international utilities and major domestic energy players to at least one relatively young startup, showing the broad-based interest in developing Virginia’s offshore wind resources.

offshore wind power

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BOEM’s Call for Information and Nominations identified an area of federal waters roughly 10 nautical miles by 13 nautical miles, located about 23.5 nautical miles offshore Virginia Beach. In the Call, BOEM asked the public to comment on the area and how its existing and potential uses might be affected by offshore wind development. BOEM also invited potential developers to express interest in leasing part or all of the identified area for developing offshore wind electric generation facilities, with responses due last month.

BOEM has now released some information about the eight companies expressing commercial interest in the area. These entities include:

  • Apex Virginia Offshore Wind, LLC: Apex has experience with onshore wind, and recently partnered with global maritime firm Maersk Line, Limited to support the development, financing and construction of utility-scale offshore wind energy facilities in North America. Apex is planning its Hampton Roads project off Virginia, and submitted a formal request for a lease area to BOEM’s predecessor Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation & Enforcement (BOEMRE) in August 2009.
  • Arcadia Offshore Virginia, LLC: Arcadia Windpower was founded by Peter Mandelstam in 1997, and developed the first onshore wind project in Montana. Mandelstam went on to found Bluewater Wind, which was sold to NRG Energy Inc. in 2009. Although NRG appears to have put Bluewater’s Delaware offshore wind development on hold, Arcadia’s principals had succeeded in winning a competitive power purchase agreement for the Delaware project.
  • Cirrus Wind Energy, Inc. Cirrus may be less well-known than some other applicants, but appears to be the successor to a small-scale wind turbine manufacturer in Nevada. Cirrus expressed interest in three out of the twenty blocks available, whereas other companies generally expressed interest in leasing a larger number of blocks. Nevertheless, Cirrus’ expression of interest puts it at the table with the bigger players.
  • Dominion Resources, Inc.: A Dominion subsidiary is the dominant electric utility in Virginia and a major player in U.S. energy markets. Dominion operates generation facilities today (with a portfolio of 28,000 MW in capacity resources) as well as the mainland transmission grid in much of Virginia. As previously noted on the Offshore Wind Wire, Dominion had previously expressed concerns over the cost of offshore wind, but now seems interested in developing one or more projects off Virginia.
  • enXco Development Corporation: enXco is a developer of renewable energy projects. enXco’s portfolio includes over 47 renewable energy projects in 15 states, with additional development activity in Mexico, and Canada. enXco is also the largest North American provider of third party O&M for wind turbines. enXco is affiliated with EDF Energie Nouvelles, itself a subsidiary of French utility Électricité de France S.A.
  • Fishermen’s Energy, LLC: Fishermen’s Energy describes itself as a “fishermen owned offshore wind company”. Fishermen’s, which shares some of its leadership with vertically-integrated fishing company Atlantic Capes Fisheries, Inc., is pursuing offshore wind farms off of New Jersey and elsewhere along the East Coast.
  • Iberdrola Renewables Inc.: Iberdrola Renewables, LLC is the U.S. division of parent companyIBERDROLA, S.A., Spain’s largest energy group and the fourth largest utility company in the world by market cap. IBERDROLA, S.A. employs over 33,000 people in more than 40 countries, and claims to have largest renewable asset base of any company in the world. Iberdrola’s renewables arm now has over 40 projects generating power in the U.S.
  • Orisol Energy US, Inc.: Orisol Energy US, Inc. was established in 2009 as a subsidiary of Spanish company Orisol Corporacion Energetica S.A. Orisol itself is a subsidiary of Synergy Industry and Technology, S.A. and Spanish energy giant Repsol Nuevas Energías, S.A., one of the largest energy companies in the world. Orisol and its subsidiaries have over 2,500 MW of wind and solar projects under development in Spain, Italy, Bulgaria, Romania and the U.S.

BOEM is now reviewing these parties’ submissions. BOEM’s review is broad, including an assessment of whether each applicant’s filing is compete, and whether each applicant is legally, technically, and financially qualified to hold a renewable energy commercial lease on the outer continental shelf. BOEM will also determine whether “competitive interest” exists.

Based on the number of responses, and the fact that most applicants have expressed interest in nearly the entire available field, it seems likely that BOEM will find competitive interest exists for at least some of the blocks. If BOEM reaches that conclusion, it will launch a competitive leasing process among those developers it deems qualified.