It will be a few years before energy is generated by any offshore wind farm in the United States, but efforts to get more of the nation's energy from such sources have taken a major step forward: Last week, the federal government for the first time auctioned off leases for wind energy on the outer continental shelf.

The provisional winner of Wednesday's auction of the area off the coast of Rhode Island and Massachusetts was Providence-based Deepwater Wind.

Deepwater CEO Jeff Grybowski says his company will spend the next few years studying the area and obtaining state and federal permits that will allow it to begin construction.

He says an aggressive schedule could mean the company starts putting turbines in the water in 2017, then start generating power in 2018.

[Associated Press]