UJFT Society of Professionals host offshore wind panel discussion

by | May 19, 2022 | Homepage Posts

Panel moderator Joel Rubin may have summed it up best, when he said, “The wind is definitely blowing in the right direction…” for the region’s new offshore wind farm, whose turbines will soon be generating power to light up area homes, power area businesses, and reduce the area’s collective carbon footprints.

On Tuesday, May 3, a distinguished panel of subject matter experts came together at the Sandler Family Campus for the closing event of this year’s United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Society of Professionals’ “Power Series.”

The three-part series was hit from all sides by challenges and delays, including the postponement until next year of award-winning photographer and entrepreneur Roie Galitz. The prior session was conducted virtually with Unorthodox podcast creator and producer Josh Kross. Many in the community met Kross when the Unorthodox cast recorded a live podcast with the Jewish community at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art in Virginia Beach.

Welcomed by Dr. Stacey Neuman, Society of Professionals chair, panelists for Harnessing the Power of the Wind included: Paula Miller, legislative advisor and communications specialist from Dominion Energy; Fred Pasquine, president of Fairlead Integrated (who brought breaking news to which this article will circle back); George Hagerman, senior project scientist at ODU’s Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography; and Ray White, business development coordinator for the Virginia Beach Department of Economic Development. Each of the panelists spoke to a particular area of expertise. In the audience were representatives from some of the workforce development schools and training centers, including Ray Blanchet from Mid-Atlantic Maritime Association; and Trent Nylander from Centura College.

The event drew about 50 audience members, who received a 360-degree view of the benefits that the offshore wind project will bring to the region—both in terms of green energy, reduced fossil fuel consumption, and resulting carbon emissions. Also touted were the new jobs the project will create and the new technology that will be developed in Hampton Roads—for the entire country.

Virginia Beach, as several of the panelists explained, is the optimal location for the kinds of transportation required by a project of this magnitude—from its deep-water access to its ports and waterfront facilities, to its favorable workforce with US Navy personnel regularly transitioning to the civilian workforce. The region has responded with great support, gearing up for what stands to be a real economic game-changer.

The Society event scooped the local newspapers and broadcasts when Fred Pasquine of Fairlead announced that the company had just closed on a long-term lease for 100 acres of property at Lambert’s Point (the old coal terminal at NIT), to build and run a world-class maritime operations and logistics center in support of the offshore wind, defense, and transportation industries. The facility is being rebranded Fairwinds Landing, and starting in late 2022, Fairwinds will begin to invest more than $100 million in buildings and infrastructure. Fairlead/Fairwinds owner Jerry Miller was in the audience as the announcement was made. Miller was particularly proud of the fact that the new facility will create more than 500 new jobs.

The panel discussion, augmented by photos, charts, and maps to show the relative locations of the turbines, substations, and areas for possible future expansion, closed with a question and answer session. It was awe-inspiring to see how very large the turbines truly are (with blades the length of a football field and so wide at their base that one has to walk inside the blade for maintenance and repair) and with spinning speeds so fast that they require special ceramic coatings to avoid being damaged by raindrops.

After the raffle drawing, during which the winner received two “spots” on a future boat ride out to the prototype turbine, which currently operates 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach, panelists came down from the stage to mix and mingle with the audience and answer questions one-on-one.

The UJFT Society of Professionals is an affinity group which operates under the auspices of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and is funded through member donations to the Federation’s Community Campaign. The Society of Professionals offers a variety of programs and activities throughout the year. Some are hosted and open to the community, while others are for Society members only.

The UJFT Society of Professionals is beginning to plan programs for next year’s calendar. To learn more about the UJFT Society of Professionals, contact Amy Zelenka at azelenka@ujft.org or visit the UJFT Society of Professionals Facebook page at www.facebook.com/UJFTSocietyofProfessionals.

Amy Zelenka is chief development officer for United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.

Amy Zelenka