Updated March 27 at 6:35pm

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R.I. closer to commercial offshore wind development

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PROVIDENCE - Rhode Island has passed the federal government’s initial vetting process to develop commercial wind energy projects locally, officials are slated to announce Friday afternoon.

The Bureau of Ocean and Environmental Management has identified a Wind Energy Area - an area that has the potential to support a wind turbine farm - off of Rhode Island and Massachusetts’ shores.

Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee, U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and U.S. Rep. David N. Cicilline will make the announcement at 2:30 p.m. at the Save The Bay Center, located at 100 Save The Bay Drive in Providence.

The government identified the area using the the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Smart from the Start protocol, which aims to promote rapid and responsible siting, leasing, and construction of new wind projects along the Atlantic Coast.

Rhode Island’s fishermen will “continue to have access to fishing areas vital to their work,” a news release said.

Earlier this month, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that the Smart from the Start initiative had cleared an important environmental review by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, allowing Interior to move forward with the process for wind energy lease sales off Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and Delaware.

Rhode Island, Wind Energy Area, federal, government, commercial wind, area, Bureau of Ocean and Environmental Management, Chafee, Jack Reed, Sheldon Whitehouse, David Cicilline, Save The Bay, Smart from the Start, Ken Salazar

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