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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - In a step toward the development of offshore wind turbines, the federal government has announced approval of a wind energy research facility to be located in federal waters off Virginia.

The announcement Thursday by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management clears the way for the installation and operation of two 6-megawatt turbines. The power generated by those turbines is enough to provide electricity for 3,000 homes.

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BALTIMORE (AP) - A statewide environmental group is reporting on the benefits of more wind power.

Environment Maryland says its report Thursday will quantify the state's wind energy potential and evaluate the benefits to Maryland if wind power supplied 30 percent of the nation's electricity needs by 2030.

Maryland has several land-based wind farms in operation, mostly in the western mountains.

The state also supports development of commercial wind energy projects in nearly 80,000 acres of the Atlantic Ocean off the Maryland coast.

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The Defense Department has raised a formal objection to the construction of the proposed wind farm in Somerset County.

Congressman Steny Hoyer says he has gotten a letter from Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work that said the project which includes 25 wind turbines would impair or degrade the military’s capability to conduct research, development, testing and evaluation of defense readiness.

Hoyer said that the Defense Department is concerned that The Great Bay Wind project poses a significant threat to the radar system at Patuxent River Naval Air Station.

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The Pioneer Green Energy wind farm project will take center stage over the next two weeks as the Somerset County Planning Commission reviews an ordinance drawn up two and half years ago for regulating wind energy.

Planning director Gary Pusey says the commissioners want to see if the ordinance is still appropriate for the project.

Among other issues is a provision that requires each turbine to be reviewed by the county’s Board of zoning Appeals.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The U.S. Department of the Interior says it has auctioned some 80,000 acres off Maryland for wind energy development.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management held an auction on Tuesday. US Wind Inc. submitted the winning bid of $8.7 million.

The Maryland Wind Energy Area is located, at its closest point, about 10 nautical miles off Ocean City. Federal officials say When fully built, the wind energy area could generate enough energy to power about 300,000 homes.

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Maryland lawmakers, environmental groups and wind energy advocates called on Senator Barbara Mikulski to pull non-binding language in the Defense spending bill that would delay the wind turbine project in Somerset County.

The provision calls on the Navy not to sign onto any agreement to develop the wind farms until the second phase of an MIT study is completed on the impact of the turbines on the Naval Air Station on the Patuxent River.

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All eyes now turn to Governor Martin O'Malley as to whether he will veto the a measure that would delay the wind farm project in Somerset County by another year. Supporters of the project say this would effectively kill it, but opponents say the delay is needed to assess the impact of the wind turbines on the radar at the U.S. Naval Air Station on the Patuxent River. Delmarva Public Radio's Don Rush examines the conflict with Jennifer Shutt, who has been covering the legislative session in Annapolis for the Salisbury Daily Times.

With the overwhelming Senate vote to delay the $200 million wind project in Somerset County state Senator Jim Mathias said that this vote would be a $45 million loss for local residents.

Developers had hoped to move forward with construction of the Great Bay Wind Energy projection by next summer.

But the measure would delay that for another 15 months while a study is conducted to examine the impact of the wind turbines the U.S. Naval Air Station on the Patuxent River.

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal officials say NRG Energy has been awarded a lease for an offshore wind power farm 11 miles off the Delaware coast.

Federal officials say the lease announced Tuesday is the first under a new streamlined leasing approach. However, an NRG spokesman says that while the lease brings offshore wind another step closer, it doesn't oblige the company to build the project.