As many as 166 wind turbines, generating enough electricity to power some 200,000 homes, could be built in Vineyard waters under a state draft ocean management plan released on Wednesday.

The plan sets aside two areas, one on the far side of Noman’s Land and the other off the Elizabeth Islands, as the sites which would provide almost all the offshore wind power for the state of Massachusetts.

To give some idea of the scale of potential development, it could be 25 per cent larger in numbers of turbines, and almost 50 per cent larger in generating capacity, than the controversial Cape Wind project planned for federal waters in Nantucket Sound.

However, the turbines would be located much closer to Island shores.

At its closest point, the Cape Wind project would be more than nine miles away. Under the state plan, turbines could be as little as three miles from the Island’s southwest shore between, Squibnocket and Gay Head.

As in the case of Cape Wind, the draft state plan provides for the installation of 3.6 megawatt turbines. Those proposed by Cape Wind would be on pylons 246 feet tall, with blades rising some 440 feet above the water at the top of their rotation.

Any commercial development in these areas might be expected to use equipment of similar scale.

The Ocean Management Plan is an effort by the state to adopt a science-based approach to the management of state waters. The draft will be subject to further refinement before a final plan is released at the end of this year.

And it was the science, said Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs secretary Ian Bowles, which identified the two areas near Martha’s Vineyard .

“The plan is really a remarkable collection of the best available science. We have 12 different categories of special, sensitive or unique resources that are afforded additional environmental protections,” he told the Gazette on Wednesday.

“Things, for example like roseate tern habitat in upper Buzzard’s Bay, or long-tailed duck habitat that basically surrounds Nantucket.

“And those two areas [southwest of the Vineyard] presented the minimum of conflicts. The area south of Noman’s Land is unusual in that there are few other places in state waters that are three or four miles away from population centers and have relatively minor potential conflicts, such as with navigation or ecosystem values, ” he said.

Other areas of state waters would still be available for small-scale community wind generation, subject to environmental vetting, he said.

“The rest of the coast is not ruled out. We’ve given the power to the regional planning agencies — in your case the Martha’s Vineyard Commission — and to the towns to sort out how they might wish to apportion smaller scale community type wind developments.”

Only the two areas near the Vineyard would be available for commercial generation.

In addition to their other advantages, Mr. Bowles said, the sites were adjacent to proposed wind generation projects in federal waters.

“There have been three or four different developers who have made proposals to the federal government for sites just south of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. We are looking to work with the federal government in those other adjacent areas as well,” Mr. Bowles said, adding:

“The plan is a management tool. Once it is complete, the natural resource agencies and energy agencies will then start to focus on appropriate processes for development.”

It would be sometime next year before any legal framework was in place to allow the bidding process to begin for companies wishing to exploit the wind resource.

Given the enormous resistance to the Cape Wind proposal, particularly from fishermen and those who worry that views will be spoiled, the Oceans plan may generate more controversy.

But Mr. Bowles said he believes most people now are ready to accept the need for alternative power generation.

“Being a Woods Hole native myself, I think it would be a point of pride for Cape Cod and the Islands to be associated with that kind of opportunity for significant new energy development,” he said.

“I think the public is ready for major investment in renewable power and you see that through Congress last week passing through the House legislation on climate change and energy.

“Of course, people have different perspectives. I haven’t heard yet from folks who have been critical of the designations — but it was only released this morning. I’m sure we will.”

The plan actually provides for far less extensive power generation around the Island than some people originally thought would be the case.

A couple of months ago, Martha’s Vineyard Commission executive director Mark London expressed concern that waters around two-thirds of the Vineyard — to the east, south and west — could be opened up for turbines.

Jo-Ann Taylor, the coastal planner for the commission who was appointed to the Ocean Advisory Commission which came up with the plan, said she was delighted with the result.

“There was a kind of panic when the preliminary data results came out, because the data showed we have a huge wind resource and not much in the way of cargo traffic or other exclusionary resources that would make this area unsuitable.

“People were picturing a ring of turbines around the Vineyard, and if the commonwealth had just looked at the data, then we would have had a ring.

“But that didn’t happen, and the reason was a lot of hard work. The public input and input from the commissioners are what molded the final choice of the two commercial sites.

“Cuttyhunk said they wanted Sow and Pigs [a reef southwest of the island] as the best place to put wind power.

“The other commercial site is the other side of Noman’s, which is where Vineyard people have always thought the best place.

“Also the MVC will be able to allocate what’s called community wind. The original proposal was just to allocate by town, but now the Vineyard community can decide where our community power can go,” Ms. Taylor said.

Considering the “tremendous political pressure” at state level to develop wind resources, she called the plan released this week “magnificent.”

Nonetheless, while the Vineyard will have control of its own destiny as far as community power is concerned, there is little that can be done to influence what development occurs in the two areas earmarked for commercial generation.

“The Oceans Act legislation put the energy facilities siting board at the top of the heap as the regulator. There’s nothing that we could do about that,” she said.

“The Oceans Act has been law for a year. The only way to change that is to go to the legislature. But the Oceans plan that has come out of it manages things well, I think.”

She said there will be further meetings over the fall to fine-tune the plan.

“And if there are some things that need to be modified before the final plan is to be adopted at the end of the year, we can still do that.

“But no major paradigm shift is possible.

“If the plan had said ‘ring around the Vineyard,’ we would be treading water now. But I think this is a good basic plan. Overall, I think we’ve done well.”