Dominion Virginia Power is initiating a study of what it would take to build a high-voltage underwater transmission line from Virginia Beach into the Atlantic Ocean to support multiple potential offshore wind farms.

Dominion sees this as the first of many steps with the ultimate goal being the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the transmission line necessary to make the offshore wind resource available to its customers.

“An undersea transmission line project will be a key to getting wind generation from the Atlantic Ocean to our customers,” said Scot C. Hathaway, vice president of Transmission for Dominion. “Virginia has excellent resources for offshore wind energy. It makes sense for us to begin a preliminary scoping study of a transmission line and how it could make the offshore wind industry in Virginia viable, without regard to issues of rates, timing and integration into the PJM Interconnection regional transmission grid.”

Dominion plans to complete the study this year, evaluating options to best support multiple offshore wind projects off the coast of Virginia. The company would work with PJM Interconnection through its Regional Transmission Expansion Planning process. The Virginia State Corporation Commission would have to approve any power line project as well.

“Electricity generation from winds off the coast of Virginia holds great promise for the Commonwealth, both as a source of renewable power and new jobs,” said Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. “This study will help us better understand the possibilities of utilizing this green energy to help power our economy.”

A Dominion study of its existing transmission system in eastern Virginia last year showed that it is possible to interconnect large scale wind generation facilities up to a total installed capability of 4,500 megawatts (MW). The study stated 1,500 MW of generation into a Virginia Beach substation would not be expected to create transmission deficiencies.