Virginia-based Dominion said Tuesday that it has applied to bid in the auction that will determine who will build Maryland's first offshore wind turbines, part of the state's push to increase local sources of renewable energy.

Tuesday was the deadline for filing qualification packages for the auction, planned to be held late this year. The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which is overseeing the auction, said the number and names of qualified bidders would be released later, likely in late spring.

Dominion won the agency's September auction for a project off Virginia's coast.

The auction for generating electricity off Maryland's coast will be split into two leases which together total almost 80,000 acres, some 10 nautical miles from Ocean City. Federal officials said in December that the area could accommodate turbines that would produce enough electricity to power 300,000 homes.

If a project goes forward, Marylanders would subsidize it through a surcharge on their electricity bills. Gov. Martin O'Malley's wind legislation, passed last year, called for households to pay up to $1.50 a month and businesses to pay as much as 1.5 percent extra.

jhopkins@baltsun.com

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