July 20, 2023
FEDERAL PUBLIC NOTICE
This Public Notice (PN) is related to two earlier Corps of Engineers PN’s identified as NAO-2013-00418, published by the Norfolk District on September 15, 2022 and December 16, 2022. The District Commander has received a modification to a joint permit application for Federal and State permits as described below:
Dominion Energy Virginia
c/o Joshua J. Bennett
707 East Main Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219
PROJECT LOCATION: Atlantic Ocean, Virginia Beach and Chesapeake, Virginia
NEAREST WATERWAY: Atlantic Ocean, Owl Creek, West Neck Creek, Northlanding River, Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.
LATITUDE AND LONGITUDE:
Offshore Lease Area: 36.9955, -75.2157
Onshore Route Start: 36.8162, -75.9701
Onshore Route Terminus: 36.6909, -76.1894
PROJECT DESCRIPTION AND PURPOSE: The applicant proposes to construct a 2,587-megawatt (MW) offshore wind project, known as the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) Commercial Project, located within the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Virginia, which will include associated infrastructure within the cities of Virginia Beach and Chesapeake, Virginia.
In 2020 the Virginia General Assembly passed the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA) to support the development of 2,500-3,000 MW of clean and reliable offshore wind energy to be in service by 2028. The purpose of this project is to help meet the goals of VCEA, and to help reduce electricity generated by fossil fuel-power plants while offering economic and environmental benefits to the region.
On September 15, 2022, the Corps of Engineers issued a PN for the proposed project. On December 16, 2022, a PN was issued for a modification to the proposed work and announcing that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) had issued a Notice of Availability (NOA) for the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).
The Offshore portion of the project will include the installation of 176- 14.7 MW wind turbine generators (WTGs) located within a 112,799-acre Lease Area approximately 27 statues miles off the Virginia Beach, Virginia coastline. Approximately 180-foot maximum diameter of stone scour protection will be installed around the WTGs. The project will also include the construction of three (3) Offshore Substations with approximately 0.95 acres of scour protection, and approximately 229 miles of 660-kilovolt (kV) Inter-array Cables. In addition, nine (9) buried 230 kV Offshore Export Cables will extend from the Lease Area to an onshore Cable Landing area. The Offshore Export Cables will cross Cells 2 and 5 of the Dam Neck Ocean Disposal Site (DNODS) and three (3) existing fiber optic, in-service telecom cables where twenty-seven (27) 39.5-foot-long by 9-foot-wide by 0.5-foot-tall Bottom Protection concrete mattresses and twenty-seven (27) 138-foot-long by 9-foot-wide by 0.5-foot-tall protective Top Protection concrete mattresses will be installed to protect the proposed Offshore Export Cables at these locations. Nine (9) temporary cofferdams will be installed at the Nearshore Trenchless Installation Punch-Out locations to facilitate lowering the Direct Pipe within the transition zones where the Offshore Export Cables exit the sea floor. If it is determined that the use of cofferdams is not feasible during construction, then nine (9) 82-foot-long by 6.6-foot-wide by 1-foot-high concrete mattresses will be installed above the transition zones as added cable protection. In addition, up to 108 temporary steel pipe piles may be installed along the HDD pipe alignments to act as “goal-posts” to the punch-out locations during construction.
Prior to construction, the offshore project area will be surveyed using a Remotely Operated Vehicle with a suction pump attachment to identify potential UXO targets that cannot be avoided. The proposed mitigation of UXO for the project is limited to relocation via “lift and shift” measures. The applicant does not intend to conduct deflagration or detonation of UXO. It is anticipated that an average disturbance of 161.5-square-feet of ocean bottom per mitigation of one UXO will be required.
The Onshore portion of the project will begin where the Offshore Export Cables come onshore at the Cable Landing Location at the State Military Reservation (SMR) in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The cables will then transition to nine (9) underground 230 kV Onshore Export Cables, which will extend underground approximately 4.4 miles from the SMR to the proposed Harpers Switching Station located on Naval Air Station Oceana. From the Harpers Switching Station, the Onshore Export Cables will transition to overhead Interconnection Cables and extend approximately 14.2 miles along new, existing, and expanded right-of-way corridors to the existing Fentress Substation in Chesapeake, Virginia. The Onshore work will result in permanent impacts to approximately 1.70 acres of palustrine emergent wetlands, 0.68 acres of palustrine scrub/shrub wetlands, 7.98 acres of palustrine forested wetlands and 153 linear feet of stream, and the conversion of approximately 29.70 acres of palustrine forested wetlands to palustrine scrub/shrub wetlands, and temporary impacts to approximately 0.38 acres of palustrine scrub/shrub and 25.46 acres of palustrine emergent wetlands.
These impacts are detailed in the Project Drawings that have been published on the internet at the following web address: https://www.nao.usace.army.mil/Missions/Regulatory/Offshore-Wind-Projects/
AVOIDANCE AND MINIMIZATION: The Offshore portion of the project was designed to construct the minimum number of turbines needed to achieve the required capacity of the project as stated in the purpose and need, while minimizing physical impacts during and after construction to aquatic resources. The preferred WTG layout was designed in consideration of existing shipping, commercial/recreational fishing, and military operations, as well as existing environmental constraints within the designated Lease Area. Based on discussions with maritime stakeholders, modifications were made to the offshore cable crossing areas, which included relocating the crossings to deeper water areas and modifying the proposed scour protection measures over the cable crossings to reduce potential hazards to navigation within the project area.
The onshore portion of the project was designed in close coordination with SMR and NAS Oceana in order to avoid conflicts with their operations and future development within these military installations. Impacts to waterways were avoided by utilizing HDD installation methodology or installing the cables on towers above the waterways. To further reduce new impacts associated with the project, the onshore work was sited to avoid wetland impacts by occurring within or adjacent to existing rights-of-way corridors, access roads, and previously developed areas where prior impacts have occurred when practicable. The project was also designed to utilize collocation opportunities when practicable to reduce fill impacts within wetlands. Further coordination with the localities, the Navy, contractors and property owners required modifications to the proposed plans due to existing use and conflicts with the construction designs and techniques.
COMPENSATORY MITIGATION: To offset permanent impacts to approximately 1.70 acres of palustrine emergent wetlands, 0.68 acres of palustrine scrub/shrub wetlands, 7.98 acres of palustrine forested wetlands and 153 linear feet of stream, and the conversion of approximately 29.70 acres of palustrine forested wetlands to palustrine scrub/shrub wetlands, the applicant proposes to purchase 2.07 non-tidal wetland credits within HUC 02040304 and 31.46 non-tidal wetland credits and 101 stream credits within HUC03010205.
In addition, the applicant must obtain an Individual Section 401 Water Quality Certification or waiver from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) assuring that applicable laws and regulations pertaining to water quality are not violated.
A copy of the joint permit application can be found on the Virginia Marine Resources Commission’s website (https://webapps.mrc.virginia.gov/public/habitat/additionaldocs.php?id=20221183).
(X) Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. 403).
(X) Sections 401 and 404 of the Clean Water Act (Public Law 95-217) and Title 62.1 of the Code of Virginia.
( ) Section 103 of the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972 (33 U.S.C. 1413).
(X) Section 14 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. 408 (Section 408))
FEDERAL EVALUATION OF APPLICATION: The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest. The decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefits which reasonably may be expected from the proposal must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All of the proposal's relevant factors will be considered, including conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, cultural values, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, flood plain values, land use, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food and fiber production, mineral needs, consideration of property ownership and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people. The Environmental Protection Agency's "Guidelines for Specification of Disposal Sites for Dredged or Fill Material" will also be applied (Section 404(b)(1) of the Clean Water Act).
The Corps of Engineers is soliciting comments from the public, federal, state, and local agencies and officials; Indian Tribes; and other interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of this proposed activity. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps of Engineers to determine whether to issue, modify, condition, or deny a permit for this proposal. To make this decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and the other public interest factors listed above. Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is the lead federal agency for this project, responsible for coordinating review in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act. Pursuant to 40 CFR 1501.8, the United States Army Corps of Engineers Norfolk District (Corps of Engineers) is acting as a cooperating agency with BOEM to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity. Any person may request, in writing, to the District Engineer, within the comment period specified in this notice, that a public hearing be held to consider this application. BOEM previously held public hearings on January 25th, January 31st and February 2nd, 2023, which also served as Corps public hearings.
As the lead federal agency, BOEM will be responsible for fulfilling the collective Federal responsibilities under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (PL 93-205), Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (PL 89-665), and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, as amended by the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 (PL 104-267). See Docket No. BOEM-2021-0040. BOEM has preliminarily determined that: (l) an environmental impact statement will be required; (2) listed/proposed/candidate species and/or designated/proposed critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531-1544, 87 Stat. 884), as amended) may be affected; (3) the project may have an effect on Essential Fish Habitat (EFH); and (4) Historic Resources eligible for inclusion or included in the NRHP are in or near the Corps permit area or would likely be affected by the proposal. Upon completion of the Draft EIS, BOEM will assess the effects of the proposed project on these resources and coordinate the findings with the public and our office. Additional information might change any of these findings.
SECTION 408: The Norfolk District Operations Branch has determined that the proposed activity will require permission to alter a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) project pursuant to Section 14 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 (33 U.S.C. 408 (Section 408)). Interested parties are hereby notified that this request (Section 408 Request ID: 408-NAO-2022-0056) for permission is to alter the Atlantic Ocean Channel segment of the Norfolk Harbor and Channels Federal Project. Specifically, the Norfolk District is evaluating the impacts to navigation associated with installing submarine cables and related cable protection measures in the vicinity of the Federal project. The proposed project will also impact the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) designated Dam Neck Ocean Disposal Site (DNODS), which is a dredged material placement area specifically utilized by the Norfolk District and Baltimore District. The DNODS is jointly managed by the USEPA and USACE. Written comments, including any objections to the proposed alteration, stating reasons therefor, are being solicited from anyone having an interest in the requested alteration. The authority to grant permission for temporary or permanent use, occupation, or alteration of any USACE civil works project is contained in Section 14 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899. Section 408 authorizes the Secretary of the Army to grant permission for the alteration or occupation or use of a USACE project if the Secretary determines that the activity will not be injurious to the public interest and will not impair the usefulness of the project. Written comments specific this Section 408 review should be submitted directly to Katy Damico at Katy.R.Damico@usace.army.mil and copied to the Section 408 Inbox at email@example.com and the Regulatory contact noted in the Comment Period section below.
VIRGINIA’S COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT PROGRAM: For compliance with the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended for projects located in Virginia’s Coastal Zone, the applicant must certify that federally licensed or permitted activities affecting Virginia's coastal uses or resources will be conducted in a manner consistent with the Virginia’s Coastal Zone Management Program (Virginia CZM Program), and obtain concurrence from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Office of Environmental Impact Review (OEIR). It is the applicant’s responsibility to submit a consistency certification to the OEIR for concurrence or objection, and proof of concurrence must be submitted to the Corps prior to final permit issuance. A template federal consistency certification can be found in the Federal Consistency Manual here: https://www.deq.virginia.gov/permits-regulations/environmental-impact-review/federal-consistency . For more information or to obtain a list of the enforceable policies of the Virginia CZM Program, contact the DEQ-OEIR at (804) 659-1915 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The applicant has not submitted concurrence.
VIRGINIA’S SECTION 401 WATER QUALITY CERTIFICATION PROGRAM: The Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 401 Certification Rule (Certification Rule, 40 CFR 121), effective September 11, 2020, requires certification, or waiver, for any license or permit that authorizes an activity that may result in a discharge. The scope of a CWA Section 401 certification is limited to ensuring that a discharge from a Federally licensed or permitted activity will comply with water quality requirements. To comply with the Virginia Section 401 Water Quality Certification Program and the Certification Rule, the applicant is responsible for adhering to the procedures outlined in the Certification Rule when requesting certification from the certifying authority, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. In accordance with Certification Rule part 121.12, the Corps will notify the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator when it has received a Department of the Army (DA) permit application and the related certification. The Administrator is responsible for determining whether the discharge may affect water quality in a neighboring jurisdiction. The DA permit may not be issued pending the conclusion of the Administrator’s determination of effects on neighboring jurisdictions.
COMMENT PERIOD: Comments on this project should be in writing and can be sent by either email to email@example.com, or by regular mail, addressed to the Norfolk District, Corps of Engineers (ATTN: CENAO-WRR), 803 Front Street, Norfolk, VA 23510-1011, and should be received by the close of business on August 4, 2023.
PRIVACY AND CONFIDENTIALITY: Comments and information, including the identity of the submitter, submitted in response to this Public Notice may be disclosed, reproduced, and distributed at the discretion of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Information that is submitted in connection with this Public Notice cannot be maintained as confidential by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Submissions should not include any information that the submitter seeks to preserve as confidential.
If you have any questions about this project or the permit process, contact Mrs. Nicole Woodward at 757-201-7122 or firstname.lastname@example.org.