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An acoustic electromechanical energy loss mechanism, relevant for suspended micro- and nanoelectromechanical resonators, is investigated theoretically. The energy loss results from the conversion of the mechanical energy from the vibration of the resonator into acoustic waves due to the coupling between the resonator and nearby structures resulting from electrostatic forces caused by the applied voltage bias. Analytical expressions are derived for the quality factor of cantilever and bridge resonators in close proximity to an underlying substrate. By comparison with experimental results it is concluded that such mechanism can be a dominant source of dissipation for practical devices.