Twenty-four nautical miles off the beautiful sandy shorelines of Virginia Beach, something is about to change. It could impact every coastal state on the East and West coast of the United States — and even the entire world.

Virginia has become the first state in the country to be granted a “wind energy research lease” by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). This is truly a groundbreaking and historic moment. Virginia, no stranger to creating history, is serving as a pioneer in the field of wind driven renewable energy offshore.

Two large “test” turbines will be placed off the VA Beach coast by Dominion Virginia Power, the local power company. At that distance, miles from where the ocean meets the sandy shore, one should not be able to see or hear the powerful turbines whirring away, creating clean, renewable energy.

If these test turbines work successfully, Dominion will request leasing a much larger area for more turbines from the BOEM, over 100,000 acres of federally controlled ocean waters could be utilized. This wind farm could generate enough electricity for 700,000 homes and businesses.

In addition to clean, renewable energy, new jobs should be created. The Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium predicts that a fully developed wind farm could create up to 12,000 jobs within 20 years. The federal government would also benefit by receiving annual lease revenues paid by Dominion for the use of the waters.

This project is still in its infancy. The BOEM is gingerly dipping a toe into the Atlantic Ocean, allowing Dominion to test the effectiveness of this new energy-producing technology. The goal is to learn more about the pros and cons of harnessing offshore winds for power. With that knowledge comes innovation and change.

As residents, we are very proud of the teamwork being exemplified by the state of Virginia, Dominion Power, and the BOEM. It shows the commitment and ingenuity they have toward our environment, economy, and the future.

With Virginia leading the way, we expect many other states to follow.