The Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. has announced the support of several key environmental groups for Icebreaker, the six-turbine offshore wind project slated to be the first of its kind in Lake Erie.
That support announced March 17 is deemed important as LEEDCo is poised to appear April 7 before the U.S. Department of Energy to give a 50-minute presentation that could be critical to the organization’s success.
Icebreaker is competing with five offshore wind projects for an additional $46.7 million investment from the U.S. Department of Energy. Three of the projects will be selected in May.
LEEDCo is completing the engineering design, securing power purchase agreements and project finance, and developing the local supply chain. Construction is scheduled to begin in spring 2017.
“We are thrilled to have the strong support of the environmental community in Ohio,” said LEEDCo President Lorry Wagner. “Their support increases our project’s likelihood of success and validates our community-based approach to offshore wind development. We are dedicated to working with all stakeholders to ensure that this project is built responsibly.”
LEEDCo was founded in 2009 and members include Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Lorain and Lake counties, the city of Cleveland, the Cleveland Foundation and NorTech.
As a public-private partnership, the agency represents Northern Ohio’s public interest in offshore wind and works to develop the initial 20- to 30-megawatt demonstration project in Lake Erie, seven miles off of the Cleveland shoreline.
If successful, the goal is to work toward a 1,000 megawatt target by 2020.
Lake County Commissioner Robert E. Aufuldish is that county’s representative on LEEDCo’s board.
“All the things in this project involved talking to the environmental folks, talking to the people concerned about the birds, fish, how it might effect Lake Erie,” Aufuldish said. “They have done a nice job and it speaks loads to how very precise this request has been to the Department of Energy.”
Lorain County Commissioner Ted Kalo is his county’s representative on LEEDCo’s board.
“One of the issues always surrounding turbines is their affect on nature and always concerns about the birds and how that is going to affect the entire ecosystem,” Kalo said. “The LEEDCo team has done a very good job of putting all the issues into a succinct statement and showing those groups we are very conscious of those concerns. It’s good to know they support the LEEDCo project.”
LEEDCo specifically cited letters of support posted to the agency’s website by The Ohio Environmental Council, The Nature Conservancy, Environment Ohio, The Sierra Club, Mom’s Clean Air Force, Ohio Interfaith Power & Light, and Earth Day Coalition.
These letters were also included in the recently filed permit applications with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Ohio Power Siting Board, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and several other state and federal regulatory agencies, according to LEEDCo.
Those applications also included an environmental assessment determining that the wind turbine pilot project poses no significant risk to the birds and bats in the area.
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