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Dominion Energy dismisses attempts by groups to halt offshore wind construction

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(The Center Square) — Three public interest groups are claiming a legal victory of sorts, saying their actions have led to at least a temporary delay in Dominion Energy’s efforts to begin construction on Virginia’s major offshore wind project – but Dominion disagrees.

The Heartland Institute, the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow and the National Legal and Policy Center have taken action against Dominion several times now regarding the project.

They filed a lawsuit in March, alleging that federal agencies, as part of their environmental assessment of the project, neglected to perform a full analysis of the harm that could come to the endangered North American right whale. In early April, they filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents detailing Dominion Energy’s plans to mitigate any harm their project might cause to the endangered North Atlantic right whale and other protected marine species.

On Monday, they filed a preliminary injunction to prevent Dominion from commencing construction on the project until some of the concerns in the lawsuit had been addressed.

On Wednesday, the groups issued a press release suggesting they had at least been partially successful in disrupting the power company’s plans.

“An order by a federal judge on Monday delayed the start of ‘pile driving’ construction for a massive wind project off the Atlantic Coast by Dominion Energy,” the release read.

The judge “convened an expedited status conference hearing” in response to the lawsuit filed by the three groups, “express[ing] concern that Dominion Energy did not yet gain approval by the federal government for its five mitigation plans,” according to the release.

But the same day the groups issued a statement about the delay, Dominion issued a statement countering their claims.

“Any reports that the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) project has been delayed are false and grossly misrepresent the facts,” the company said in a statement.

In their joint statement, the groups cited documents they said the utility company had filed with the Bureau of Energy Management stating its intention to “begin offshore construction activities no later than May 1.”

However, Dominion claimed in its statement that it planned to start monopile installation between May 6 and 8, and “therefore, any suggestion that any legal action has caused a delay to the construction timeline as of May 1, 2024, is false.”

Dominion also called the groups’ allegations “meritless,” lumping them in with others that have been defeated in other courts.

“Dominion Energy strongly believes that the project’s biological opinion is compliant with all legal requirements and expects to prevail against the request for a construction delay,” its statement read.

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