Daily Press (Sunday)

Setting the record straight on wind

- By Ken Kimmell Ken Kimmell is the chief developmen­t officer for Avangrid. Learn more about the project at kittyhawko­ffshore.com.

Few states in the country have as much to gain from the emergence of offshore wind as Virginia.

Recently, I traveled to the commonweal­th to meet with local stakeholde­rs, labor leaders and policymake­rs to discuss the immense potential for jobs, economic developmen­t and clean energy this industry offers. Just consider what Avangrid’s Kitty Hawk Wind project could bring to Virginia — the potential to generate at least 3,500 megawatts, power 1 million homes, create thousands of jobs, and help attract additional investment­s including local manufactur­ing.

What truly left an impression is how well-positioned Virginia is to capture these benefits and establish a hub for offshore wind in the Mid-Atlantic. With its historic maritime workforce, naval heritage and existing port infrastruc­ture, it is easy to see a vibrant offshore wind cluster taking shape in the Hampton Roads region.

The potential is massive, and Avangrid is eager to build on the partnershi­ps we’ve built and create new bonds in the community so we can deliver this project and help kickstart an entire new industry in the commonweal­th.

But to do so, we need to work together to ensure Kitty Hawk Wind succeeds. In recent weeks, rumors have circulated regarding our relationsh­ip with the Virginia Beach City Council and our proposal to bring the power ashore at Sandbridge Beach. To date, the council has made no formal decision, nor taken a vote,

on our proposed project. However, we are aware that the council has expressed concerns based on misinforma­tion circling in the community.

We appreciate our strong working relationsh­ip with the council and are eager to address all concerns brought forth by its members and constituen­ts. We remain committed to our partnershi­p and believe we can work together to make sure Virginia realizes its immense potential to be a leader for the U.S. offshore wind industry.

That starts by directly addressing the misinforma­tion about our project.

We’ve heard a lot of concern from residents about electric and magnetic fields (EMF) and its impacts. Here are the facts. EMF is made up of a combinatio­n of electric and magnetic fields of force. Every day we use mobile phones, computers and drive and walk under overhead power lines — all of those generate some amount of both electric and magnetic fields.

Power lines that run overhead emit extremely low frequency EMF. However, because the power lines for our project will be buried undergroun­d and encased in

concrete several feet below the ground, no EMFs will be emitted; rather, only magnetic fields will be.

Magnetic field modeling conducted by our team of experts concluded that the “peak” for the magnetic field over the center of the two duct banks is less than a common hair dryer and dissipates rapidly as one moves away from the center of the duct banks. The closest residences result in a magnetic field less than that generated by a fluorescen­t light bulb.

Virginia can’t afford to let such misinforma­tion stand in the way of realizing this once-in-a-generation economic opportunit­y. Over the past three years, Avangrid has worked diligently to build relationsh­ips in Virginia Beach and make sure the community understand­s the full scope and benefits of our project.

We know we have more work to do, and we’re committed to doing so. But we also believe the council must act with fairness and in the best interest of the city.

In the past five years, the council has approved three requests for easements for utility projects: the MAREA project making landfall under Croatan Beach into a parking lot 12 miles north of Sandbridge; the Globalinx project under Sandbridge beach; and Dominion’s CVOW project to route 27 export cables along city roadways. Our project has either the same or lower impacts than these approved projects.

In fact, when compared to Dominion’s project, where most of the onshore power lines will be above ground rather than buried, the environmen­tal impacts will be greater than our proposal to bring cables ashore at Sandbridge Beach, which we commit to leaving better than we found it — just as we have done with our project on Cape Cod.

Going forward, our team is doubling down on our efforts to share our plans and educate the public on the significan­t benefits our project offers. We remain committed to continuous engagement and dialogue to win the support of the City Council and the Virginia Beach community.

 ?? STEPHEN M. KATZ/STAFF FILE ?? A view of Sandbridge before the start of a sand replenishm­ent program in 2020.
STEPHEN M. KATZ/STAFF FILE A view of Sandbridge before the start of a sand replenishm­ent program in 2020.

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