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LEEDCo wind farm won’t harm environment: DOE rules

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The U.S. Department of Energy this week ruled that the proposed wind farm project in Lake Erie will have no significant impact on the environment.

The ruling, following a two-year review mandated by federal law, means the federal agency’s funding arm can continue to support the Lake Erie Energy Development Co.’s proposal to build a six-turbine wind farm 8 to 10 miles offshore.

“We are pleased that that U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Coast Guard have found that Icebreaker poses no significant environmental impacts. Now we are urging the State of Ohio to follow suit and issue a Certificate to allow Icebreaker to move forward and deliver the economic and environmental benefits it promises,” said David Karpinski, vice president of development in a written statement.

The DOE awarded LEEDCo a $50 million grant six years ago and so far has dispensed $10 million of that award as the project developers met required milestone.

The finding included 14 categories of environmental impact, ranging from the impact of the project on the Lake bottom to its impact on fish, insects, birds, and bats. Other areas included the impact on water quality, lake use, climate change noise, the economy and the view of the turbines from shore.

The DOE ruling comes as the Ohio Power Siting board staff continues to oppose the project, citing concerns over its impact on birds and bats.

Siting board officers wrapped up a seven-day hearing on the issue earlier this week. But final written arguments are not due until the end of November. A ruling is not expected until early 2019.

The total cost of Project Icebreaker, the name LEEDCo and private developer Fred. Olsen Renewables of Norway have given the project, has been estimated at least $126 million, a total that is likely to grow.