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VIRGINIA BEACH (AP) A public meeting is scheduled in Virginia Beach on offshore test turbines that could smooth the way for the development of wind farms 20-plus miles off the sandy beaches of the resort city.

The meeting Thursday is sponsored by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. It will focus on the environmental impacts of the wind turbines, which would be capable of producing 12 megawatts of wind energy.

The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy has requested a research lease for the turbines.

Proponents of clean wind energy, including the Sierra Club, are expected to attend the meeting and press for construction of an offshore wind farm off the coast by 2020.

Dominion Virginia Power successfully bid for the vast offshore leasing area.

The meeting is at the Virginia Aquarium ay 717 General Booth Blvd. from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Many supporters, including member of the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter, will rally outside the meeting from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

'While the 12 megawatt test project is an important step and we support it, Dominion should commit to constructing all 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind online in the more immediate future, ideally by 2020,' said Sierra Club Virginia Director Glen Besa. 'Full development of this resource would create thousands of new jobs, decrease the threats our communities and economy face from climate disruption, and help Dominion meet the new limits on carbon pollution that the US EPA is proposing. Virginia should settle for nothing less.'

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