The Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. (LEEDCo) announced that it has reached an agreement with the staff of the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) regarding the construction and operation of its Icebreaker Wind energy project.
The six-turbine Icebreaker, which would be the first freshwater offshore wind energy installation in North America, would be located eight miles off the coast of downtown Cleveland. The turbines will have minimal visual impact. On a clear day, if a person standing on the lakefront downtown holds their arm out and gives a thumb’s up the turbines would be no taller than half a thumb nail.
Now that LEEDCo has reached an agreement with staff, the next step is to seek approval from the Siting Board. LEEDCo officials are optimistic that the permit will be issued later this year.
“While there is more work to be done before we can formally proceed, this is a significant milestone for us,” said LEEDCo President Dr. Lorry Wagner. “This new agreement details the extensive regulations that will govern this project and confirms the Ohio Department of Natural Resources important, ongoing oversight role.”
The project has previously secured approvals from agencies including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Department of State.
Additionally, Icebreaker has been endorsed by a long, bi-partisan list of public officials in Ohio, organized labor, the Cleveland Foundation and environmental groups including the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Ohio Environmental Council. Construction could begin as early as 2021 although Icebreaker must first receive the permit from the Siting Board to move forward with installation.
According to LEEDCo, Icebreaker Wind can help Ohio secure a strong position in the rapidly growing offshore wind energy industry in the U.S. There are $70 billion worth of offshore wind energy projects planned for the East Coast. Ohio has the largest wind energy manufacturing base of any state in the U.S. according to the American Wind Energy Association.
“Icebreaker is a gateway to helping Ohio grow the industry,” Wagner said. “This project allows us to compete with the East Coast in the multi-billion dollar offshore wind industry. The clean energy jobs related to Icebreaker Wind will be a boon for our region and the state.”
Miranda Leppla, Lead Energy Counsel of the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) said extensive scrutiny of the project’s environmental impact led her organization to support the project.
“The OEC is pleased to join in the revised agreement today which also includes the Ohio Power Siting Board Staff,” she said. “The agreement contains important protective and precautionary measures for wildlife and Lake Erie, and allows this innovative project to move forward in the siting process.”
In addition to the data collection required by various regulatory agencies, monitoring and collaboration agreements have been signed with the Cleveland Water Department as well as the Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research, a 23-partner university and research consortium dedicated to protecting the waters of the Great Lakes.