The practicality and ecological consequences of erecting a wind turbine on the Maumee Bay shore will be the subject of a study for which the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority board of directors yesterday approved hiring two consultants.
The port board also took a procedural step that will allow a local preservation group to assume ownership of the Toledo Harbor Lighthouse.
Green Energy Ohio of Columbus and AWS Truewind of Albany, N.Y., are to study the winds along the shoreline of Maumee Bay and the potential impact an electricity-generating turbine might have on nearby bat and bird populations.
Green Energy is to be paid $57,308, while AWS Truewind is to receive $113,061. Both contracts are to be funded from a $470,000 U.S. Department of Energy grant the port authority received early this decade to erect a wind turbine, first proposed for an island in Lake Erie and later for the mainland.
Plans to erect a wind-test tower as a preliminary step aroused “significant resistance” from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and various environmental activist groups, according to a port authority staff report.
William Carroll, the port board’s vice chairman, questioned the need for such a study when “there’s thousands of these things around the world.
“Aren’t there already thousands of studies,” he asked.
“Unless the study is local to the area of the wind turbine, it doesn’t count to the environmental community and to the government,” Seaport Director Warren McCrimmon responded.
With several wildlife preserves to the east along the Lake Erie shore, locally specific research is needed, board member Opie Rollison added.
After that discussion, Mr. Carroll joined a unanimous vote to award the study contracts.
The study is to be completed by March 31, 2009, and its cost may increase to up to $200,000 without further board approval if additional environmental research beyond its initial scope is needed.
Four experimental wind turbines have been erected at the Wood County Landfill west of Bowling Green, and one or two more are slated to rise near Huron, Ohio, as part of a Bowling Green State University-Firelands study for which that institution recently received a $1 million energy department grant.
The Great Lakes Science Center in downtown Cleveland recently put up the first wind turbine in Ohio along Lake Erie, at a cost of $500,000. That turbine, to be used mostly as a demonstration, began producing electricity on June 9.
The Toledo Harbor Lighthouse, along the Toledo shipping channel at the entrance to Maumee Bay, is unmanned and is eligible for transfer from federal ownership to the Toledo Harbor Lighthouse Preservation Society, a nonprofit group that organized specifically for its preservation and restoration.
As a prerequisite to such a transfer, the U.S. Department of the Interior required the port authority to pass a resolution stating that it anticipates no need for submerged lands near the lighthouse for any future harbor improvements, and that the society’s activities would not conflict with the port authority in any way.
The port board passed the resolution unanimously.
In other business, the port board approved a contract for up to $200,000 with Simplex-Grinnell L.P. of Boca Raton, Fla., to integrate and modernize four fire-alarm systems at Toledo Express Airport into one system. A Federal Aviation Administration grant will provide 95 percent of the funding for the work.
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