Tetra Tech supported the siting, permitting, and environmental evaluation for the proposed Virginia Offshore Wind Technology Advancement Project (VOWTAP). VOWTAP is a 12 megawatt (MW) offshore wind technology demonstration project proposed in federal waters off the coast of Virginia Beach, Virginia. VOWTAP is one of three demonstration projects to be selected by the Department of Energy to receive $47 million in funding to support the development of the project with the goal of advancing the offshore wind industry in the United States. The Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is serving as the lead regulatory agency for this project. 

Tetra Tech supported the federal, state, and local permit acquisitions and environmental analyses required for the construction and operation of the VOWTAP, including the environmental assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other federal, state, and local approvals for the project.

The VOWTAP is a collaborative research and development effort comprised of the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy (DMME); Alstom GE; Keystone Engineering Inc.; Kellogg, Brown, & Root; the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium; and Newport News Shipbuilding.

As a member of this team, Tetra Tech has served as the lead environmental consultant supporting agency consultations and negotiations with BOEM, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and the Virginia Department of Historical Resources.

To support this effort, Tetra Tech completed marine hydrographic and geophysical data collection and marine archaeological and benthic survey assessments. Tetra Tech outfitted a Florida-based research vessel, the Sea Lion V, with state-of-the-art hydrographic mapping equipment and mobilized it to Virginia for the surveys. The marine geophysical surveys characterized the physical environment of the project site and subsea transmission cable route, specifically mapping site bathymetry (multibeam sonar) and identifying relevant seabed properties to assist in designing the project facilities (subsea cable and wind turbine foundations) to avoid potential seabed hazards, cultural resources of concern (e.g., shipwrecks), and sensitive subsea habitats.

In addition, Tetra Tech completed extensive characterization and impact assessments of project activities on public health and safety; land and marine uses; and biological, ecological, water, cultural, and socioeconomic resources. This included the development and implementation of a NOAA-approved marine mammal and sea turtle identification, monitoring, and avoidance training program to support all project-related marine survey activities.

Tetra Tech also played a key role in supporting the development and submittal of a first-of-its-kind Research Activities Plan (RAP) to support BOEM’s review and approval of the VOWTAP. The RAP was approved by BOEM in March 2016. BOEM is currently using the RAP as a model for all future offshore wind applications.