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Wind turbine farm could be visible from shore, so Dominion will compensate Virginia Beach

The Virginian-Pilot|Stacy Parker|March 6, 2024
VirginiaImpact on LandscapeImpact on ViewsOffshore Wind

Offshore wind turbines and the lights on them could be visible from the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, impacting the view of nearly two dozen historic sites, among others. To mitigate the “adverse visual effects” of the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project, Dominion Energy will pay Virginia Beach $290,000. The Cape Henry Lighthouse will separately receive $650,000. The City Council approved a plan Tuesday that will apply the money the city receives to historic preservation projects.


VIRGINIA BEACH — Offshore wind turbines and the lights on them could be visible from the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, impacting the view of nearly two dozen historic sites, among others.

To mitigate the “adverse visual effects” of the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project, Dominion Energy will pay Virginia Beach $290,000. The Cape Henry Lighthouse will separately receive $650,000.

The City Council approved a plan Tuesday that will apply the money the city receives to historic preservation projects.

Construction of the Dominion Energy wind farm that begins 27 miles off the coast and extends 15 miles to the east is set to start in May. It will consist of 176 wind turbines with three substations that could generate power for roughly 660,000 …

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VIRGINIA BEACH — Offshore wind turbines and the lights on them could be visible from the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, impacting the view of nearly two dozen historic sites, among others.

To mitigate the “adverse visual effects” of the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project, Dominion Energy will pay Virginia Beach $290,000. The Cape Henry Lighthouse will separately receive $650,000.

The City Council approved a plan Tuesday that will apply the money the city receives to historic preservation projects.

Construction of the Dominion Energy wind farm that begins 27 miles off the coast and extends 15 miles to the east is set to start in May. It will consist of 176 wind turbines with three substations that could generate power for roughly 660,000 homes. Onshore work for transmission of the energy is underway.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management determined the construction, installation, operations, and maintenance of the turbine project has the potential to adversely affect 23 Virginia Beach historic properties and is subject to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, which requires mitigation funding.

“Because the wind turbines and/or the lights on the turbines may be visible on the horizon, it affects the historic viewshed for these properties,” wrote Mark Reed, the city’s historic preservation planner, in an email.

The poles and lights could be visible from 23 sites, most along the Oceanfront, including museums, private homes and hotels.

“These turbines are going to be more than 800 feet tall and will have warning lights so that airplanes and boaters can see them at night,” said Jeremy Slayton, Dominion Energy spokesperson. “Under some circumstances they could be visible from shore.”

The project also will affect sightlines and views in other parts of the city. Dominion recently paid Virginia Beach $19 million for about 4 miles of city easements to transmit energy from offshore. Roughly 38 acres of tree canopy in Virginia Beach will be razed to make way for the power lines. Some of the money will be used to replace trees, according to the city. The company has begun cutting down trees along the easement and is currently digging holes for underground cables at State Military Reservation, south of the resort area.

However, no further mitigation funding from the onshore transmission lines segment will be provided since there are no adverse effects on historic properties, Reed said. The city agreed on $290,000 for the offshore portion based on the projects it will fund, he said.

The $650,000 the Cape Henry Lighthouse will receive may be used for educational programming or a renovation of the Cape Henry Lighthouse Visitor Services Center, Slayton said.

Provisions of the national preservation act don’t require funding to go directly to adversely effected properties, but some will, according to Reed.

“Typically, the funds are provided to promote the public good and public interest in historic preservation,” he said.

A similar situation, but with a much larger amount of mitigation funding, arose in 2017 when Dominion Energy compensated Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg and Yorktown for the visual disruption from controversial towers and a high-voltage transmission line running across the James River. The mega-power company paid $90 million to reduce the impact of the project on environmental resources and historic sites.

Virginia Beach will apply the funds to several historic preservation projects.

The projects include:

  • Development of a sea level rise and disaster mitigation plan for historic resources.
  • Preparation of National Register of Historic Places nominations for gunning and hunting clubs in Virginia Beach.
  • Survey and documentation of the historically African American neighborhoods of Doyletown and Queen City, and support of the production of NRHP nominations for them or for historic mid-century hotels in Virginia Beach.
  • Production of a design pattern book for the Cavalier Shores Historic District.
  • Educational programs and interpretation of the Virginia Beach Surf and Rescue Museum and the Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum/ deWitt Cottage.

Source:https://www.pilotonline.com/2…

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