A LEEDCo official said more than 3,000 people in Northeast Ohio so far have signed up to pledge to buy a portion of their future electricity needs from offshore wind power.
The Power Pledge helps the Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. gauge community support and demonstrate a strong market in Northeast Ohio for local clean electricity generated on Lake Erie, said LEEDCo President Lorry Wagner.
LEEDCo has begun work on a five to nine turbine wind energy demonstration project in Lake Erie named “Icebreaker,” which is slated to be completed in 2017. It would be the first freshwater offshore wind project in the nation.
The Icebreaker project involves the installation of six 3-megawatt American-made Siemens wind turbines approximately 7 miles off the coast of downtown Cleveland in Lake Erie. Officials also have a 1,000 megawatt target in mind by 2020.
Officials from LEEDCo said the project is expected to create 525 construction, installation and permanent jobs, provide $79.9 million in gross regional product from construction, and $7.3 million of annual gross regional product impact.
Once completed in 2017, LEEDCo said the project would be the catalyst for a new regional industry that improves the environment, creates local jobs and advances U.S. energy security.
There is no obligation or cost to take the pledge, but it would allow people to be first in line when the wind power becomes available through their local power providers, Wagner said.
“About 60 percent of the people we contact are signing up for it,” he said.
LEEDCo plans to use the pledges to encourage local electricity suppliers to make that source of electricity available to their customers, who would have the chance to be among the project’s first customers.
The project already has received a round of investment from its private partners and the U.S. Department of Energy to fund the initial engineering design and permit application process.
In May 2014, the Department of Energy plans to invest up to an additional $46 million in each of three offshore wind projects that it believes would catalyze the U.S. offshore wind energy industry.
LEEDCo, which was founded in 2009 as a nonprofit organization, also represents a public and private partnership.
Members of the organization include Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Lorain and Lake counties, the city of Cleveland, The Cleveland Foundation and NorTech.
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, also will be on hand for a public event at 1 p.m. Aug. 22 at the Cleveland Convention Center called “POWER UP for Offshore Wind” to support the project and to encourage people to take the pledge.
“The mayor has always supported the project, saying it’s one of his important initiatives,” Wagner said.
LEEDCo kicked off the Power Pledge drive in April during Northeast Ohio’s Earthfest at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds in Berea.
Anyone interested to sign up to take the pledge can visit: www.leedco.org/the-power-pledge.