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Crews of research boats perform last-minute tune-ups before heading out to map the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. A large weather buoy decked out with gear for measuring wind speeds waits on the quay for repairs. And a 1,200-foot stretch of the port has been beefed up to bear enormous loads.

Last week, that effort took a major step forward as the state of Massachusetts, after holding an auction, selected a group made up of a Danish investment firm and a Spanish utility to erect giant turbines on the ocean bottom, beginning about 15 miles off Martha’s Vineyard. This initial project will generate 800 megawatts of electricity, roughly enough to power a half a million homes. At the same time, Rhode Island announced it would award a 400 megawatt offshore wind project to another bidder in the auction.

Offshore wind farms have increasingly become mainstream sources of power in Northern Europe, and are fast becoming among the cheapest sources of electricity in countries like Britain and Germany. Such power sources in those two countries already account for more than 12 gigawatts of electricity generation capacity.

Such projects have run into opposition here over both cost and aesthetics — utilities are typically required to opt for the cheapest sources of power and communities have resisted plans regarded as eyesores. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy helped block a wind project off the coast of Cape Cod that would have been visible from the family estate.

But the technology has the potential to bring large supplies of energy to the Northeast. Arrays of wind turbines with generation capacities comparable to major conventional power plants would be mostly out of sight, albeit within easy transmission reach of large population centers such as Boston and New York City.

Massachusetts is looking to capitalize. It wants to add 1,600 megawatts of electricity by 2027. That would be enough to power a third of all residential homes in the state and supply 11 percent of its overall needs. The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, a state agency, also estimates that the projects could generate 9,850 jobs over 10 years, and add $2.1 billion to the state’s economy.

Developers say the state’s plan includes a series of projects large enough to help spawn a network of local suppliers of everything from components for the turbines to services like maintaining them, and drive down costs. Other states are pushing forward as well. Connecticut will soon name a developer for an offshore wind project of its own, while New York and New Jersey have both announced ambitious plans.

New England is particularly well-suited to offshore wind farms. There is not enough land for wind turbines onshore, and the area is not ideal for solar power. At the same time, Massachusetts has been under pressure to find new sources of energy to replace aging conventional and nuclear plants, as well as meet targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions blamed for climate change.

For years, projects there required large government subsidies to be economically viable. Recently, technical advances and plummeting prices have meant that countries like Germany and the Netherlands have been able to award offshore wind projects with zero subsidies. As a bonus, offshore wind farms have supported thousands of jobs in port cities in the region.

Two of the three bids in Massachusetts came from European developers. The winner was a joint venture of Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, a Danish renewable energy investment firm, and a subsidiary of Iberdrola, a Spanish utility. The other bids came from a consortium led by the Danish wind giant Orsted, and a company called Deepwater Wind, which is based in Providence, R.I., and mainly owned by D.E. Shaw, an investment firm. Deepwater Wind won the Rhode Island contract.

In particular, some of New Bedford’s fishermen are worried. The city’s port is already home to hundreds of fishing boats, as well as seafood auction houses and processing plants. It generates about $3.3 billion a year and supports about 6,200 jobs, according to the local authorities. "You don’t want to destroy one type of sustainable energy harvest with another one," said Kevin Stokesbury, a professor at the School for Marine Science and Technology at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.

Opposition to offshore wind in the state appears to have quieted since the death of Kennedy in 2009. The senator and his family successfully resisted a project off Cape Cod that would have been the first offshore wind farm in the United States, a project proposed in 2001.

The area’s high electricity prices may prove, counterintuitively, to be a plus. Power prices in Massachusetts are the second-highest in the nation, behind only Hawaii, and high rates prevail in much of the rest of New England and in New York. As a result, customers might be more willing to pay the increased early prices for power generated by offshore wind.