CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Ohio Power Siting Board wants to hear the public’s opinion of the proposed Lake Erie wind turbine project.
The siting board has set a formal public hearing for 6 p.m. Nov. 8 in Cleveland City Council chambers.
Anyone can testify. A court reporter will create a permanent record of the testimony, which the board will consider before making a decision on the project, possibly by the end of this year.
The U.S. Department of Energy, in conjunction with the Army Corps. of Engineers and the Coast Guard has just released a preliminary environmental assessment of the project and is planning an “informational open house” on the issue from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 6 at the Lakewood Park Women’s Club Pavilion, 14532 Lake Ave., Lakewood.
The draft assessment concludes the project’s construction and operation will have minor or negligible impacts on the lake, on bats, migrating birds and insects.
The DOE is asking for written comment by Oct. 10 on its conclusions, sent either by email to ProjectIcebreaker@ee.doe.gov or by regular mail to U.S. DOE, Golden Field Office, NEPA Division, 15013 Denver West Parkway, Golden, Colorado 80401.
The Ohio siting board has been accepting letters and emails from the public about the project for some time. At least 129 comments already have been filed.
Those wishing to send a comment to the siting board can send an email to contactOPSB@puc.state.oh.us, or by regular mail to The Ohio Power Siting Board, 180 E. Broad St., Columbus, Ohio 43215. The case number for the project is 16-1871-EL-BGN.
A siting board administrative judge also has set a Nov. 17 adjudicatory hearing, or trial, in Columbus to establish whether the project, as proposed and described in an application supported by hundreds of pages of exhibits, meets state law.
Lawyers representing the project, trade groups, utilities or other organizations opposing or supporting the development will appear – provided they formally intervene 30 days before the trial – and debate whether the board should issue a construction certificate.
Originally proposed by the non-profit Lake Erie Energy Development Corp., the $126 million demonstration project would place six 3.45-megawatt wind turbines about 8 to 10 miles offshore in Lake Erie, northwest of downtown Cleveland.
The power generated by the turbines would flow through a 12-mile submerged transmission line to a new substation at Cleveland Public Power’s existing facility on North Marginal Road.
Icebreaker Windpower, Inc., a for-profit Ohio company created by the Oslo, Norway-based Fred. Olsen Renewables, will construct and own the wind farm.
Icebreaker, so named because each turbine’s foundation has been designed to withstand lake ice floes, formally asked for bids for part of the project earlier this summer. The company has set a September deadline.
Altogether, the contractors, subcontractors and suppliers are expected to hire more than 500 people and pump more than $80 million into the local economy.
Fred. Olsen Renewables wants to build hundreds, or if possible, thousands of wind turbines in the lake.
In a 2015 interview, David Brunt, CEO of Fred.Olsen Renewables, said Lake Erie has the long-term potential generating capacity of about five gigawatts of electricity. That’s 5,000 megawatts, or roughly equal to the output capacity of five large nuclear power plants.
“We see potential in this. And we think a pilot project is a great way to start and also the best way for local industry to get involved,” he said.
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