Opinion: Dominion, Labor Cooperation Produces Broad Benefit
October 11, 2021
By Robert M. Blue and Sean McGarvey
Twenty-seven miles off the coast of Virginia Beach, in the shallow waters of the Atlantic Continental Shelf, two wind turbines spin, generating enough electricity to power as many as 3,000 homes.
Five years from now, those two turbines will blossom into an array of up to 180, serving well more than 600,000 customers with energy made through harnessing the power of a steady ocean breeze.
The Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) project promises a swifter transition to carbon-free electricity and a host of economic benefits — more than 1,000 new direct and indirect jobs in Southeastern Virginia and hundreds of millions of dollars in payroll and annual economic benefits and tax revenue.
Dominion Energy and skilled labor are working hand-in-glove to make this project — and its associated customer, environmental and economic benefits — possible.
Recently, Dominion Energy and North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) — including the Virginia Building Trades and 13 other NABTU affiliates — agreed to begin negotiating project labor agreements that would encompass onshore electrical work, pre-assembly construction work for the wind turbines at Portsmouth Marine Terminal, and offshore work.
This is good news for Southeastern Virginia, the entire commonwealth, and the state’s talented workforce.
Together, Dominion Energy and skilled craft labor share a commitment to foster a clean energy revolution and accelerate the transition to emissions-free energy resources.
We share a commitment to build a domestic and local supply chain for the construction of clean energy projects.
We share a commitment to meeting the requirements of the Virginia Clean Economy Act, which include using local workers and those from historically economically disadvantaged communities, as well as the hiring, apprenticeship, and training of veterans.
We share a commitment to building and training a strong, skilled workforce for a new energy future.
And we share a commitment to safety and excellence.
When business and labor cooperate and collaborate, we bring out our best.
And there is absolutely nothing more important than protecting our neighbors and each other.
A few years ago, Dominion Energy and NABTU inked a project labor agreement and worked together on the largest private construction project in the history of the state of Maryland — the Cove Point liquefaction facility on the western banks of the Chesapeake Bay. The $4 billion project entered service on time and on budget and is now providing allies across the globe with American-made energy to drive manufacturing and innovation and heat homes.
But as important, we worked together safely. It was a complex project on a small footprint.
During a three-plus-year period, workers on the construction site bested the construction industry average ten-fold in their safety performance and doubled that of similar construction projects.
The Cove Point liquefaction project construction safety effort was remarkable. And it portends well for our expected upcoming CVOW construction project.
Dominion Energy, NABTU and its affiliates see a future ocean landscape dotted with energy-generating wind turbines that, from the oceanfront, will be very difficult to see with the naked eye.
These turbines, however, will not be out of sight and out of mind. They will deliver not only safe, reliable energy — but clean energy; green jobs; opportunities to build a lasting supply chain; a new source of revenue for local and state coffers; a cleaner, healthier environment; and a path to confront the climate challenge.
Working together, business and labor will build a clean energy future of which we all can be proud.
Robert M. Blue is chair, president and chief executive officer of Richmond-based Dominion Energy. Sean McGarvey is president of North America’s Building Trades Unions.