GORHAM — A Gorham research firm is receiving a $4.5 million grant to study risks to sea birds, sea turtles and marine mammals from offshore wind-power development.

Sen. Olympia Snowe announced the Department of Energy grant to BioDiversity Research Institute on Wednesday.

The Maine Republican says Maine is uniquely positioned to harness deep-water, offshore energy. She says technical and environmental challenges for the wind energy industry, as well as a long permitting process, are major impediments to installing offshore wind energy.

Snowe says the research project will yield data critical to advance development of offshore wind.