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Virginia-based Dominion has announced it has filed with federal regulators to be among the bidders seeking to develop wind turbines on nearly 80,000 acres off the coast of Maryland.

In December 2013, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) revealed plans to auction two separate leases for the designated Maryland Wind Energy Area (WEA) later this year. Dominion's filing and those of other interested bidders will be reviewed by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to determine which are financially qualified to participate in the auction. According to the DOI, the leased area could support up to 1.45 GW of commercial wind generation.

Notably, Dominion was the successful bidder in BOEM's September 2013 auction for a WEA offshore Virginia. That leased area has the potential to support 2 GW of wind generation.

"Offshore wind shows the most promise for building utility-sized renewable energy projects in the Mid-Atlantic region," says Mary Doswell, senior vice president for Dominion's Alternative Energy Solutions unit. "The bureau's Wind Energy Areas offer both the consistent winds and the acreage to develop these large-scale projects. Given the proximity to our leased area off of Virginia and the excellent port in Hampton Roads, there should be economies of scale that could benefit both regions."

Dominion has also received two offshore wind energy technology awards from the U.S. Department of Energy. The company says the first is a $500,000 grant with a goal to find ways to reduce the cost of offshore wind generation by 25%, and the second is a $4 million cost share for the initial development of an offshore wind turbine demonstration project.

Dominion has completed the initial development of its demonstration project for the Virginia Offshore Wind Technology Advancement Program. The company is now one of six firms being considered for a $47 million follow-up DOE grant to complete development of their demonstration projects. If successful, the company says it would continue advancing its plan to build two 6 MW wind turbines off the Virginia coast, adjacent to the area it has leased from BOEM for commercial development.



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