Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and environmental advocates are calling the auction of a leasing area off Virginia's coast for the development of wind power a milestone.
Eight energy companies are expected to bid for right to develop the designated offshore wind area, which measures larger than 112,000 acres.
McDonnell calls the auction an "exciting and significant'' step, while the conservation group Oceana calls it a milestone in the development of a new energy industry in the U.S. The Sierra Club's Virginia chapter says wind farms and other clean energy initiatives are needed to combat the impacts of climate change.
Other groups, also supportive of the auction, say they still have concerns that auctioning the area as a single block could reduce competition, and allow the winning company to drag its feet in fully developing the lease area.
The federal government has scheduled the auction for September 4.