The County Council of Erie County, Pa., voted unanimously to join the Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. (LEEDCo), the nonprofit organization based in northeast Ohio leading the effort to develop the offshore wind industry in Lake Erie. Erie County is now the first county outside of Ohio to join the public-private partnership.
LEEDCo is currently developing a six-turbine pilot project known as Icebreaker. LEEDCo secured a submerged lands lease for the project in 2014 at a site approximately seven to 10 miles off the coast of downtown Cleveland. Icebreaker is the first step toward building the offshore wind industry in Lake Erie.
According to LEEDCo, membership allows Erie County to coordinate with the group's other members and partners to shape a long-term strategy for developing offshore wind projects in Lake Erie. Other LEEDCo members include the Ohio lakefront counties of Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Lake and Lorain, as well as the city of Cleveland, NorTech and the Cleveland Foundation. Kathy Dahlkemper, county executive, will represent Erie County on the LEEDCo board of directors.
‘Offshore wind is our region's most abundant clean energy resource; and developing projects in Lake Erie will create jobs, boost the economy and clean up the environment,’ says Dahlkemper. ‘Joining LEEDCo gives Erie County a seat at the table to ensure that our local environmental and economic benefits are maximized and that the best interests of the public are protected as the offshore wind industry grows.’
By joining together, the LEEDCo counties can ensure the region's offshore wind resource is developed in a responsible manner that balances the need for new clean energy resources with the need to protect Lake Erie's existing uses. With the addition of Erie County, approximately 2.2 million acres of Lake Erie are now within the LEEDCo borders.
‘Erie County has a tremendous offshore wind resource and a network of businesses that could supply parts and services to this exciting new industry,’ says Lorry Wagner, president of LEEDCo. ‘We are eager to partner with Erie County to move the Icebreaker project forward and to explore the long-term possibilities in Pennsylvania.’