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Virginia Approves Gamesa Offshore Turbine in Chesapeake Bay

Virginia approved construction of a wind turbine in Chesapeake Bay that may be the first installed in U.S. waters.

The state’s Marine Resources Commission granted permission to Gamesa Corp. Tecnologica SA’s U.S. unit to install a 5-megawatt prototype three miles (4.8 kilometers) from the town of Cape Charles, according to a statement today from Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.

The single-turbine test, which requires approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, may be completed faster than other planned wind farms off the U.S. Atlantic coast that have been in development for years, according to the statement.

Gamesa, Europe’s second-largest turbine maker, selected Virginia for the test in part because of the state’s “unique and efficient permitting process adopted for small energy projects,” McDonnell said in the statement. The project must also be reviewed by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Gamesa is working with Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc.’s shipbuilding unit and construction is scheduled to be completed in late 2013. The blade will reach a maximum height of 479 feet (146 meters) above the surface and the tower will be installed in 53 feet of water.

Cape Wind Associates LLC has been planning a 468-megawatt project in Nantucket Sound for more than a decade and has faced opposition from environmental groups.

NRG Energy Inc. suspended work on a proposed offshore wind farm in Delaware and put its Bluewater Wind unit up for sale in December, after failing to find investors.

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