The turbines might be in the Outer Banks, but a planned wind farm in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, could have a huge economic impact in Virginia Beach and Hampton Roads, according to project leaders.
The Kitty Hawk wind farm project, which would provide enough power for 700,000 homes, has cleared several obstacles on the way to the construction phase. Most recently, the Virginia Beach Economic Development Authority approved a five-year option of up to 30 acres in the Corporate Landing Business Park to Avangrid Renewables to build an electrical substation.
“Virginia Beach is the logical site for them to come in to connect to the grid,” economic development office Raymond White told the Development Authority in December.
Avangrid is working with the Virginia Beach City Council to establish another connection point in the Landstown neighborhood, said Craig Poff, director of development for the Kitty Hawk project. The company plans to run cables from the access points to a location in Sandbridge.
So, even though the future site of the turbines is about 27 miles off the shore of Corolla, many of the jobs associated with the project would be in Virginia. Poff did not give a specific job creation number for the Kitty Hawk project but pointed to a report from the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission that said 9,800 jobs could be created for each 100 wind turbines installed. Avangrid hopes to install at least 100 turbines at the Kitty Hawk farm.
“Any way you slice it, that’s going to be a lot of opportunity,” he said.
For maximum job creation potential, however, an offshore supply chain would need to be created in Hampton Roads, according to local development officials. With enough offshore wind projects and incentives, leaders hope turbine manufacturers would set up shop in Hampton Roads. The Port of Virginia could be a big advantage, with its deep channels and a lack of bridge obstructions.
“They have some unique attributes that aren’t available anywhere else,” Poff said.
The Kitty Hawk project will still take the better part of a decade to complete, according to Avangrid. Construction would start in 2024, and turbines would come on in three stages – in 2026, 2028 and 2030.
The five-year lease for the Corporate Landing property includes the right to extend five more years if the project has submitted an operation plan to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. Avangrid has an option to buy the land for the greater of $200,000 an acre or the price per acre plus 2.5% of the last sale of fives acres or more prior to the agreement.
Avangrid won the bidding process for the Kitty Hawk project land in 2017 with $9.1 million. Since then, the company has been surveying the site and interviewing the U.S. military, local fisheries, federal wildlife agencies and anyone else who might be impacted by the turbines.
“We want to do this right, and we want to do this as a long-term partner to the community,” said Avangrid spokesman Paul Copleman.
Avangrid Renewables, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, operates more than 6 gigawatts of wind and solar power in the United States. The company is a subsidy of Iberdrola, a Spain-based electric company with around 35,000 employees worldwide.
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