TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New Jersey lawmakers have approved a bill supporting a proposed windmill farm off the coast of Atlantic City.

The state Senate approved a bill Thursday that would permit — but not require — the state Board of Public Utilities to approve the wind farm off the coast, to be built by Fishermen’s Energy.

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An environmental group that strongly supports the plan said Monday New Jersey has the greatest potential to develop offshore wind energy of any northeastern U.S. state.

New Jersey became home to the country’s first coastal wind farm in the mid-2000s. According to the New Jersey Clean Energy Program website, the Jersey Atlantic Wind Farm, located off Route 30, produces approximately 19 kWh of emission-free electricity a year — enough to provide power to around 2,500 homes.

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Utilities regulators will still closely evaluate the proposed project to make sure the cost of electricity it generates is affordable to consumers.

Concerns that large subsidies might be needed have led the BPU to reject the proposal three times.

The bill now goes to Gov. Chris Christie.

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