Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. (LEEDCo) has announced that a new report determines its 18 MW Icebreaker offshore demonstration project will have no biologically significant impact on the birds and bats that frequent the Lake Erie area.
‘The weight of evidence gathered from studies conducted over many years is quite conclusive,’ says Dr. Paul Kerlinger, a wildlife expert who authored the report. ‘Biologically significant impacts to any bird or bat species, including those that are endangered and threatened, are highly unlikely.’
According to LEEDCo, 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 U.S.
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 four 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," says 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."
LEEDCo says the finding is a milestone as it prepares its applications for the permits required to begin construction on its six-turbine demonstration project. As the project progresses, LEEDCo adds, it will work with regulators and experts to refine the risk assessments and design a post-construction monitoring plan to learn more about wildlife interactions with wind turbines in Lake Erie.
LEEDCo was one of seven national offshore wind developers to win a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant last December. The non-profit plans to file permit applications in early 2014 before submitting a final progress report to DOE in February. LEEDCo will then compete with the other offshore wind projects for one of three $46.7 million follow-up investments from the department.