- Associated Press - Thursday, June 2, 2016

NEW YORK (AP) - The federal government says it will auction off the rights to build an electricity-generating windfarm on 81,000 acres of ocean off the coast of New York and New Jersey.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced the lease sale Tuesday.

Officials say seven companies have expressed interest in bidding for the lease 11 miles south of Long Island. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority says it will also bid in hopes of directing the project’s development.

Public hearings are planned this month.

A group of New York utilities initially proposed an offshore wind project at the site in 2011, but the idea now seems to be gathering momentum.

Federal authorities say part of the delay was due to Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Commercial fishermen have raised concerns about the project.

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