AVON LAKE, Ohio – A group of about 25 Avon Lake residents listened to a public presentation on December 6 about an offshore wind power project, scheduled to be installed in Lake Erie, north of Avon Lake and Cleveland.
The company that developed the project is Lake Erie Energy Development Corp (LEEDCo). Their representative, David Karpinski, presented the Cleveland company’s plan, sometimes to loud objections from the audience, at the Lake House in Avon Lake.
LEEDCo’s demo project is called “Icebreaker” and will consist of six wind turbines seven miles off the North Coast. Karpinski said the plan is projected to create more than 500 jobs and lead to an industry that employs 8,000 people by the year 2030.
The power from the turbines will run in a trench directly from the project to Cleveland Public Power in Cleveland.
Some in the audience were very concerned about the project’s impact on wildlife. Liz McQuaid attended and stated firmly she is against the project. “More research is needed,” she said. “They have only done one study and it wasn’t even done recently. There other studies that show there is a real danger to birds.” McQuaid cited snowy owls and black swamp birds as examples of species that would be in danger because they would be in “a major migratory pathway.”
Karpinski said both the U.S. Department of Energy and the Army Corps of Engineers have indicated they believe the impact on wildlife would not be significant. He added they have also had positive conversations with the Coast Guard that maintains the shipping channels, which also brought disagreement from the audience.
The project funding has included sources such as the Cleveland Foundation as well as $50 million in 2012 from the Federal government. The project will be only the second one of its kind in the U.S. and the first one taking place in fresh water.
Most of the many permits required, Karpinski said, should be finalized by February 2018.
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