The Sierra Club, James W. Sewall Co. and Greenleaf Advisors are building a team of stakeholders to develop a regional Web-based geographic information system (GIS) for siting wind energy projects in the Great Lakes.
The proposed online system will provide developers, regulators, government officials, nongovernmental organizations, landowners and other stakeholders with environmental and ecospatial information for use in identifying offshore project sites and evaluating the potential environmental, economic and social impacts of development in the region.
The first phase of the SmartSiting Project, launched in early January, includes an outreach to key stakeholders to inform, identify and recruit project partners, as well as a legal review of the regulations affecting offshore wind development and submerged land leasing in the Great Lakes.
In subsequent phases, the team will collect and develop environmental, cultural, economic and commercial data sets from a variety of sources, integrating them into the Web-based GIS.
In concept, the new system's design and data integration process will be based, in part, on existing Great Lakes Web-based atlases and the Offshore Wind Energy GIS (OWEGIS), an ecospatial information management system created by Dr. Susan Elston at the University of Maine and refined in collaboration with its commercial partner, Sewall. OWEGIS comprises over 650 layers of coastal- and marine-related data used in siting wind power projects in the Gulf of Maine.