Lake Erie wind turbine developer asks state regulators to reconsider ruling that could doom the project
COLUMBUS, Ohio—A wind-energy developer hoping to build Icebreaker Wind, the nation’s first freshwater offshore wind farm, is asking state regulators to reconsider their ruling setting dozens of conditions that could kill the project.
The Lake Erie Energy Development Corp., or LEEDCo, the nonprofit company behind the six-turbine project several miles northwest of Cleveland, argues the Ohio Power Siting Board’s decision last month was “unjust” and “unlawful,” as it overruled an agreement between the company and board staff last year.
On May 21, the board approved the Icebreaker Wind project, but only if it met 33 conditions – including that the turbine blades can’t move at night between March 1 and November 1, to limit risk to birds and bats. That makes the project financially infeasible, according to LEEDCo President Dave Karpinski.
“Should the decision stand, the implication is that evidence can be ignored, technical staff and expert testimony can be disregarded – setting a dangerous precedent for any project going before this board that controls the energy fate of millions of Ohioans,” Karpinski said in a statement.
The board now has 30 days to decide whether to accept the appeal and rehear the matter, though the board could extend that deadline if it wishes.
Karpinski also asked Gov. Mike DeWine to weigh in on LEEDCo’s behalf, though Karpinski said in an interview he wasn’t sure exactly what the governor could do to change the board’s decision.
DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney declined comment Monday on the grounds that it is a pending legal action.
Icebreaker Wind, a $126 million, 20.7-megawatt pilot project funded in part by a $40 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, has been in the works for more than a decade.
The U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a 180-page environmental assessment last year that found no significant environmental impact. The Ohio Environmental Council and Sierra Club are also backing the project.
But other groups, including the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association, the nonprofit Lake Erie Foundation and the Black Swamp Bird Observatory, have opposed Icebreaker Wind, arguing that a deeper environmental analysis is needed. They’ve expressed concern that the turbines would be both a hazard to birds and that it would open the door to turbines popping up elsewhere around Lake Erie.
Murray Energy Corp., a coal company, has also bankrolled anti-Icebreaker consultants and lawyers.
Correction: An earlier version of this story contained a quote from Dan Tierney that, due to a misunderstanding, was given regarding a different issue. Regarding Icebreaker Wind, Tierney declined comment.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding