A stripped-down wind-energy proposal backed by Maryland’s governor and gaining support in its legislature may be the first step in creating a network of offshore turbines and sub-sea cables spanning the U.S. Atlantic coast.

The project would power the equivalent of only 61,600 of Maryland’s 2.1 million households. However, clean-energy advocates say it could signal the emergence of an industry that has so far been unable to erect a single tower in U.S. waters, giving the project impact beyond its megawatts

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