How the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Project is affecting marine life

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Posted at 6:10 AM, Aug 20, 2021

NORFOLK, Va. - Fishing is a way of life for Captain Ron Spangler.

"I'm 73. Now, I started with a cane pole when I was probably nine or 10 years old. I've been doing all my whole life," Spangler, an angler at Fishhook Sport Fishing in Norfolk, said.

As an angler with many years of experience, Spangler doesn't plan on hanging up his rod anytime soon. It's part of the reason he said Dominion Energy's Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Project is a hook, line and sinker.

"It's going to be unbelievable. That's my personal opinion," Spangler said.

Right now, there are two wind turbines about 27 miles of the coast of Virginia Beach, designed to bring clean energy to Virginia.

"We use the wind as free fuel to spin the turbines. Through the use of a magnet and a generator, they generated that electricity that comes through cables, it comes onshore right into the grid," said Kevin Carroll, operations and maintenance manager for the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Project. "It's the equivalent of taking over a million internal combustion engine vehicles off of the road."

Right now, there are two wind turbines off the coast, but 180 are eventually planned. Dominion Energy said the wind turbines will generate enough power for about 660,000 homes.

Carroll said the wind farm also causes marine life to flourish.

"When you put a structure into the water, it's going to have marine life grow on it. And we're in a sense, creating an ecosystem. We've seen tremendous growth, and the number of marine species that have been in and around the turbines where before there was nothing - now we have black sea bass, we have spadefish. It has been rather impressive to be able to see that."

Spangler said that on his trips out to sea he has seen quite the number of new fish.

"The little fish are going to come in, the bigger fish are going to come in and then bigger fish are going to come in and the fishing is going to be fantastic. We've been needing this for a lot of years," Spangler said.

Carroll said Dominion has been working with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science to monitor underwater growth.

"It's not just the growth that we're going to see in the marine life, there's going to be a growth in the job markets as well, not just for Dominion, but within the supply chain that's necessary to be able to keep the turbines up and running," he said.

The project is expected to bring 900 jobs to our region.