Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Rhode Island Gov. Donald Carcieri last week signed a memorandum of understanding to explore the potential for offshore wind energy in waters between Martha’s Vineyard and Rhode Island.

They designated 400 square miles as an “area of mutual interest” and agreed to collaborate on possible wind-energy projects in the area. The states will study costs and benefits of offshore wind energy in the area, which is 12 miles southwest of Martha’s Vineyard and extends 20 miles west into Rhode Island Sound.

“In the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill tragedy, it is more pressing than ever to make the most of the clean energy potential off our shores,” Patrick said in a statement. “By working together, Gov. Carcieri and I will make our states the hub of our nation’s offshore wind industry, creating hundreds of jobs and enjoying the environmental benefits of renewable energy.”

In late April, the federal government approved the nation’s first-ever offshore wind farm, a $1 billion project in Nantucket Sound, Mass. It could potentially provide Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket with 75% of their electricity, according to the project’s website.

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