Internationally recognized wildlife expert Dr. Paul Kerlinger concludes in a report issued today that the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) offshore wind power project “Icebreaker” will have no biologically significant impact on the birds and bats that frequent the area.
“The weight of evidence gathered from studies conducted over many years is quite conclusive,” said Dr. Kerlinger. “Biologically significant impacts to any bird or bat species, including those that are endangered and threatened, are highly unlikely.”
Dr. Kerlinger drew upon extensive survey data collected at the project location and reviewed the impacts on birds and bats of offshore wind farms in Europe and onshore facilities in the United States. Cuyahoga County began using radar at Cleveland Hopkins Airport to track bird migration patterns across Lake Erie in 2008. In 2010, the county installed additional radar equipment and an acoustical monitoring station 4 miles from the project location at the Cleveland water intake crib. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) also conducted visual surveys at the project site and along the shoreline.
“We want to thank Cuyahoga County for helping collect the data and Dr. Kerlinger for his very thorough analysis,” said Dr. Lorry Wagner, President of LEEDCo. “Offshore wind is the best chance for the Great Lakes region to build a significant local source of clean energy. Getting this first project right could unlock the vast offshore wind potential of the entire region.”
The finding is a milestone for the corporation as it prepares its applications for the permits required to begin construction on its six-turbine demonstration project. Four years of discussions with various regulatory agencies have guided LEEDCo’s siting decisions to ensure the project would have no significant impact on ecosystems. As the project progresses, the corporation will work with regulators and experts from around the world to refine the risk assessments and design a post-construction monitoring plan to learn more about wildlife interactions with wind turbines in Lake Erie.
“Icebreaker will be the first offshore wind project in the Great Lakes and among the first in the United States,” said Dr. Wagner. “It will become an important data collection center that guides future efforts to develop the industry responsibly throughout the region.”
LEEDCo’s ongoing efforts to ensure Icebreaker will have no significant impacts on wildlife have earned the project the endorsement of the Ohio Environmental Council.
“The corporation is doing all the right things when it comes to protecting the environment,” said Trish Demeter, director of Clean Energy Campaigns with the Ohio Environmental Council. “We need to keep developing more local clean energy solutions that offset harmful emissions coming from power plants that burn fossil fuels, which poses the biggest long-term risk to birds and other wildlife.”
LEEDCo plans to file permit applications in early 2014 before the non-profit submits a final progress report to the U.S. Department of Energy in February. The corporation will then compete with six other national offshore wind projects for one of three $46.7 million investments.
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