AVON LAKE – Avon Lake residents may soon be able to harvest a portion of their home’s energy from the offshore winds of Lake Erie.
The Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo), a regional economic development corporation started in 2009, was granted $4 million from the Department of Energy and an additional $1 million from private partners in December to spur an offshore freshwater wind pilot project that called for the manufacturing of five to nine wind turbines placed in Lake Erie, seven miles off the coast of Cleveland.
The project, known as the Icebreaker, aims to reveal the economic growth potential that can be grasped through offshore wind energy. The endeavor is one of the first of its kind in the United States and serves as the only offshore wind initiative in the Great Lakes. The pilot project seeks to yield enough wind energy to help power 6,000 homes.
Pending the successful completion of the pilot project, LEEDCo hopes to generate 1000 MW of wind energy by 2020.
Representatives from LEEDCo attended Monday’s council work session to deliver an informational presentation about Icebreaker, offering Avon Lake residents the chance to become directly involved in the wind power industry by pledging to buy a portion of their future electricity needs from offshore wind power.
By signing the POWER pledge, residents are vowing to buy a portion of their electricity from offshore wind project once it is complete in 2017. The number of pledges received will help LEEDCo officials assess community support and reveal to DOE officials that there is a strong market for local clean electricity in Northeast Ohio. The pledges also will be used to encourage electricity providers to make this alternative source of electricity available to their customers for a premium.
“All the pledge is doing is offering the option for people to be able get some of their electricity from the lake,” said Councilwoman Jennifer Fenderbosh. “It’s not a contract, but a pledge that residents will be willing to pay a little bit extra, so that they can flip on their light switches in 2017 and know that they are getting a portion of their electricity from the lake.”
David Karpinski, vice president of operations for LEEDCo, said those who take the pledge will be among the first in the nation to participate and benefit from the freshwater offshore wind project. Karpinski said the project would not only provide a cleaner, alternative means of electricity, but it also would be used to expand Ohio’s electricity portfolio and serve as a catalyst for future offshore wind projects.
“This project could be the start of good things to come,” said Karpinski. “The project alone could bring create over 478 jobs and bring more than $46.7 million to Northeast Ohio. We are very excited about where this project is heading.”
Fenderbosch spoke highly of the project, stating that Avon Lake has much to gain from supporting the project because it could produce good jobs, environmental activities, new business and increased revenue for the city.
“Lubrizol is just one of the many local businesses that have already expressed their interest in the project,” said Fenderbosch. “Lubrizol makes lubricants and wind turbines need to be lubricated to run efficiently. It really could be a win-win situation for businesses in Avon Lake and a golden opportunity for the county overall.”
Representatives from LEEDCo will be at the Avon Lake Public Library Monday from 7 to 9 p.m. to deliver a public presentation where questions regarding the wind energy project can be answered and residents will have the option to take the POWER pledge.
For more information about LEEDCo or to sign the Power Pledge online, visit www.leedco.org.
LEEDCo was first created by the Great Lakes Energy Development Task Force in August 2009. The private, nonprofit regional corporation was later developed and launched by the NorTech Energy Enterprise, Cleveland Foundation, city of Cleveland, and Lorain and Cuyahoga counties to eventually help stimulate an entire offshore freshwater wind industry. LEEDCo’s efforts are focused primarily in Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Lake, and Lorain counties.