The Virginia 2020 Clean Energy Economy Act requires that offshore wind energy projects maximize local economic benefits and prioritize jobs for historically disadvantaged workers and Virginia residents. The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) must certify that the CVOW project will deliver such benefits, and is now accepting written comments. Verbal Comments will be received by phone beginning at 10 a.m. on May 16.
|How to Submit Public Comment:
Verbal Comments will be received by phone beginning at 10 a.m. on May 16 for folks who have pre-registered with the SCC by 5 p.m. on May 12, 2022
Written Comments: Written comments may be submitted through the SCC’s website by May 16, 2022, at scc.virginia.gov/casecomments/Submit-Public-Comments. Go to the SCC website, select “Cases” and then “Submit Public Comments,” scroll down to case number PUR-2021-00142. Then click SUBMIT COMMENTS.
Last week, the BlueGreen Alliance; State Senator Jennifer L. McClellan; President of the Virginia State Building and Construction Trades Council Jason Parker; and Executive Vice President of External Affairs and Operations with the Urban League of Hampton Roads Latisha James, hosted an online workshop explaining how to participate in the comment period. Watch the recording below and slides from the presentation can be downloaded here or at the bottom of the page.
This comment period provides an opportunity to build support for this project and offshore wind in Virginia, and encourage Dominion to:
- Strengthen their Economic Development Plan to set an equitable pathway to maximize offshore wind energy benefits in Virginia;
- Invest in workforce readiness programs in Portsmouth and Hampton Roads at large to ensure accessible career pathways for historically disadvantaged workers to obtain family-sustaining jobs with strong worker protections; and
- Develop a local supply chain and establish labor-management partnerships to maximize jobs.
When drafting your comments consider the following points:
Talking Points – Virginia Offshore Wind Energy
The Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) project is slated to be the largest project in the U.S. at 2,600 megawatts and can power over 600,000 Virginia homes.
SCC should support this project and assist Dominion in ensuring benefits are realized by setting the following benchmarks in the Economic Development Plan:
- Establish a goal for utilizing local content and developing local, regional, and domestic supply chains and a plan to meet that goal – including robust guidelines in RFPs utilized to select suppliers and formalizing partnerships with Minority Serving Institutions and unions.
- Require Dominion to submit quarterly supply chain updates including procurement of parts and components for the CVOW offshore wind projects, identifying when suppliers are local, regional, and domestic, and making reports publicly available.
- Establish a goal for hiring disadvantaged workers and a plan to meet that goal – including participation in apprenticeship programs, other pipeline activities, and quality jobs throughout the supply chain.
- Articulate a clear vision for diversity, equity, and inclusion that includes accessible career pathways, working with labor and community partners to develop and certify apprentice and workforce readiness programs that will produce equitable benefits, worker protections, family sustaining wages.
- Require Dominion to submit regular reports on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and progress and specify how personnel are assigned to manage programs and tracking.
- Require Dominion to submit a plan for identifying and addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion barriers in the workforce and supply chain with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), Tier 1 suppliers, and others.
- Address barriers to accessing capital for minority-owned businesses, locally-owned businesses, veteran-owned businesses, women-owned businesses, and businesses in historically economically disadvantaged communities.
Benefits for Workers
- The Portsmouth Marine Terminal is located in a majority Black community and has been solidified as a key port to service the CVOW project.
- The Terminal will receive a $20 million grant from the Department of Transportation to strengthen the US offshore wind supply chain and construct staging and storage areas for wind turbine components—supporting union jobs for dockworkers, crane operators, manufacturers, and building trades members.
- Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy is investing $200 million to build the first offshore wind turbine blade facility in the US on an 80-acre section of the Portsmouth Marine Terminal to supply the CVOW project and offshore wind projects all over North America.
- The new turbine facility and its operations and maintenance is expected to create 310 new jobs, including about 50 service jobs for the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Project.
- Atlantic Wind Transfers will provide crew transport services for CVOW from Newport News.
- In early 2020, Dominion signed an agreement to negotiate a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with three of the nation’s leading building and construction trade unions, the Virginia State Building and Construction Trades Council, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Laborer’s International Union of North America (LiUNA!) Mid-Atlantic Region.
Racial Equity & Economic Justice
- Among major race and ethnicity groups, Black workers continued to have a higher union membership rate in 2021 (11.5 percent) than White workers (10.3 percent), Asian workers (7.7 percent), and Hispanic workers (9.0 percent).
- In recent years, approval for unions has risen to 68%, rising to 74% for workers aged 18 to 24, 75% for Hispanic workers, 80% for Black workers, and 82% for Black women workers.
- Union members are paid higher wages – among full-time wage and salary workers, union members had median usual weekly earnings of $1,169 in 2021, while those who were not union members had median weekly earnings of $975.
- Union membership in Virginia is lower than in other states and increasing union density through offshore wind jobs is a key way to lift up our workers and communities
- Apprenticeship is an industry-driven, high-quality career pathway where employers can develop and prepare their future workforce, and individuals can obtain paid work experience, classroom instruction, and a portable, nationally-recognized credential all without occurring debt.
- Apprenticeships allow workers to “earn while you learn,” providing the best career pathways.
Workforce Supplier Diversity Success Stories
- All-In Cities work to grow more quality jobs and transform existing low-wage jobs into good, living-wage jobs. These programs have been successful in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, St.Paul, Minnesota, and Richmond, Virginia, among many others.
- Hospitals Building Healthier Communities plan has been successful in increasing supplier diversity in University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio.
- Billion Dollar Roundtable members spend at least $1 billion per year on non-white and woman-owned suppliers, members which include energy providers such as Exelon and Pacific Gas & Electric, and other in highly regulated industries, producing cutting-edge products, and managing complex supply chains (eg Stellantis and Cummins).
- Dominion’s corporate vision includes supplier diversity and a public commitment to workforce diversity and other equity and inclusion goals.
- CVOW will power up to 660,000 homes per year and avoid as much as 5 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, the equivalent of planting more than 80 million trees
- Offshore wind turbines generate the most power at night and during the winter when solar energy isn’t accessible and when energy demands are the highest
- Climate change is one of the greatest threats to wildlife and offshore wind development is guided by strong federal protections for fisheries, marine mammals, and marine and coastal habitat
Required by Virginia Law
In 2020 Virginia passed the Clean Energy Economy Act which includes requirements for the State Corporation Commission (SCC) to approve a minimum of 5,200 megawatts of offshore wind by the end of 2034. The law requires Dominion to develop and submit a plan to the SCC for review that includes:
- Options for utilizing local workers;
- Economic development benefits of the project for the Commonwealth, including capital investments and job creation;
- Consultation with the Commonwealth’s Chief Workforce Development Officer, the Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership on opportunities to advance the Commonwealth’s workforce and economic development goals, including furtherance of apprenticeship and other workforce training programs;
- Prioritizing to the hiring, apprenticeship, and training of veterans, local workers, and workers from historically economically disadvantaged communities; and
- Procurement of equipment from Virginia-based or United States-based manufacturers using materials or product components made in Virginia or the US, if reasonably available and competitively priced.