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‘Icebreaker’ wind power plan gets $5 million boost

LORAIN – Pioneering “Icebreaker” wind energy project plans, that include Lorain County, have gotten a $5 million boost. The plan will put five to nine wind turbines in Lake Erie off the coast of Cleveland to generate power.

The U.S. Department of Energy has committed $4 million to the project’s lead organization, Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo). Private investors have committed another $1 million, it was announced this week.

Ted Kalo, Lorain County commissioner, said, “I believe LEEDCo has the partners and vision to reduce costs while improving the performance of offshore wind projects in the shallow waters of Lake Erie. In addition, by being first-in-the-water, the Great Lakes offshore wind industry can be developed in Northeast Ohio, creating employment opportunities for Lorain County residents.”

LEEDCo is a non-profit corporation set up in 2009 to foster offshore wind energy projects in Ohio. LEEDCo members include Lorain County along with Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, and Lake counties as well as Cleveland, The Cleveland Foundation and NorTech.

The turbines are expected to go up 7 miles offshore and could receive an additional $46.7 million in federal funding as part of the Department of Energy’s $180 million push to accelerate breakthroughs in wind power over the next seven years.

LEEDCo’s “Icebreaker” project is hoped to be a catalyst for further offshore wind power developments in the region, said Lorry Wagner, LEEDCo president. Six other offshore wind energy projects received funding this year.