Update: Virginia Dominion Power has submitted a high bid of $1.6 million for nearly 113,000 acres off the state's coast for the development of wind power.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said Dominion was one of two bidders. Eight energy companies were qualified to bid.

While it is expected to take years to site towering turbines 20-plus miles off Virginia Beach, the area has the potential to generate enough power for more than 700,000 homes.

RICHMOND (AP)-Bidding has topped $1.1 million for the lease sale of an offshore Virginia ocean expanse for the development of wind power.

The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management auction began at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday and could continue through the day.

The state's largest utility, Dominion Virginia Power, is among the energy companies that qualified to bid. The government is putting nearly 113,000 offshore acres up for auction for the development of wind farms 25 miles off Virginia Beach.

The area set aside for wind development has the potential to supply power to 700,000 Virginia homes.

Advocates say Virginia's port facilities and underused shipbuilding industry are key assets to develop a supply chain for the wind industry.

First, however, the U.S. must attract the manufacturers that are now primarily based in Europe, which has a huge advantage over the U.S. in terms of wind energy. The U.S. still doesn't have an offshore wind farm.

'The competitive lease sale offshore Virginia will mark an important transition from planning to action when it comes to capturing the enormous clean energy potential offered by Atlantic wind,' Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said. 'Responsible commercial wind energy development has the potential to create jobs, increase our energy security, and strengthen our nation's competitiveness.'

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