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Lake Erie wind energy project confronted with insurmountable hurdles

Chairman Snitchler and the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) yesterday presented LEEDCo (Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation) with a daunting TO DO list of insufficiencies, omissions, and errors in its application for 6-9 industrial wind turbines about 7 miles off the shore of Cleveland.

The omissions include a formidable 14 item list:

Al Isselhard, of Great Lakes Wind Truth, who has worked for years to protect the Lakes from industrialization, explained, “We have to then assume that LEEDCo was completely unprepared to undertake the project at all. The irony here is that if they had done the proper homework, it still would have proven not to be a viable project. ”

The over 100 agencies and individuals who signed a lengthy letter of concern addressed to the OPSB on April 1st are assessing that the LEEDCo project is essentially “dead in the water.” Reflecting on the moratoria votes in Canada, members expressed that there are public trust doctrines in place that appear to have been seriously considered by OPSB. “This is a most encouraging display of leadership and research, working in tandem,” said Suzanne Albright of Great Lakes Wind Truth. “What we have are people within USFWS (US Fish and Wildlife Services) and ODNR (Ohio Department of Natural Resources) who have done a terrific job assessing wildlife risks and environmental impacts, and have picked up the precautionary principal and applied it without any lingering.” Adds Sherri Lange of NA-PAW, “The additional fact that USFWS and ODNR applied rigor and suitable research to this project permitting, shows us that despite widespread and justified cynicism about how permitting for wind turbines is done, and how our precious wildlife is being squandered with ridiculous permitting and “taking” of endangered species, we are seeing sanity and appropriate safeguards for Lake Erie in this response from Chairman Snitchler.”

Additional serious omissions or errors were noted in the environmental review materials provided by Kerlinger and Associates on behalf of LEEDCo. Letters from ODNR and FWS indicate numerous “Contradictions, biases, omissions, and minimal assessments.”

Points 19 and 20 point to the unscientific and biased and facile studies given to the OPSB by LEEDCo.

19. The boat surveys monitoring birds appear to be biased relative to the results provided through the acoustic surveys.

20. It was suggested that risks to birds migrating in the project area were minimal. Based on the pelagic bird surveys conducted by the Division of Wildlife during 2011 and 2012, the results suggest that the area proposed is within areas of larger numbers of ring-billed and herring gulls. Both migrating water birds and waterfowl may be impacted by this wind facility through direct impact as well as displacement.

Members of the Great Lakes Wind Truth group point to the fact that there are tens of millions of migrating birds and bats, possibly billions, that would be seriously impacted by even 6-9 industrial wind turbines at Cleveland. The Hawk Migration Association of North America and Rick Unger, past president and current advisor, of the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association, also expressed concerns to the OPSB.

Additionally, quoted in the joint letter is a statement about “… staggering environmental damages. From illegal bird death to radioactive waste, wind energy poses serious environmental risks that the wind lobby would prefer you never know about. This makes it easier for them when arguing for more subsidies, tax credits, mandates and government supports.”

“This project is essentially closed,” says Albright. “They have not succeeded in applying for a permit in a fair and honest manner, and the environmental resources they have relied on, notably Kerlinger and Associates, are shills of the industry itself. We consider this application to be an abject failure.”

Suzanne Albright
Principal, Great Lakes Wind Truth
Member, NA-PAW

Al Isselhard
Principal, Great Lakes Wind Truth
Great Lakes Concerned Citizens
Coalition On Article X
Lake Ontario Riparian Alliance

Sherri Lange
Executive Director, Canada, Great Lakes Wind Truth
CEO NA-PAW (North American Platform Against Wind Power)

Tom Wasilewski
Great Lakes Wind Truth
Coordinator of the Northwestern PA Eagle Conservation Association in Edinboro, PA
Long-time hawk, eagle, and other bird watcher in Conneaut, Ohio