The Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. (LEEDCo) has reached an agreement with the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) staff regarding the construction and operation of Icebreaker Wind, LEEDCo’s project proposed offshore Cleveland.
Now that LEEDCo has reached an agreement with staff, the next step is to seek approval from the siting board. The agreement was filed with the OPSB on Wednesday.
LEEDCo officials are optimistic that the permit will be issued later this year. If so, construction could begin in 2021.
“While there is more work to be done before we can formally proceed, this is a significant milestone for us,” says LEEDCo’s 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. We appreciate the agency’s mission to protect wildlife, and we look forward to winning approval of the final permit we need in order to construct Icebreaker and thus position Cleveland to becoming a leader in the booming clean energy economy.”
The six-turbine Icebreaker, which would be the first freshwater offshore wind installation in North America, would be located eight miles off the coast of downtown Cleveland. The project has already earned approvals from 13 local, state and federal regulatory agencies, says LEEDCo. This includes 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.
LEEDCo notes that monitoring and collaboration agreements have also 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.
Miranda Leppla, lead energy counsel of the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC), says 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 says. “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.”
According to Wagner, the project would enable Ohio to “compete with the East Coast in the multibillion-dollar offshore wind industry.”
“The clean energy jobs related to Icebreaker Wind will be a boon for our region and the state,” Wagner adds.
LEEDco maintains that the turbines will have minimal visual impact. On a clear day, if a person standing on the lakefront downtown holds his arm out and gives a thumb’s up, the turbines would be no taller than half a thumbnail, LEEDCO explains.
LEEDCo is a nonprofit regional economic development partnership whose members include the City of Cleveland; the Cleveland Foundation; the Port of Cleveland; Cuyahoga, Lake, Ashtabula and Lorain counties in Ohio; and Erie County in Pennsylvania. Icebreaker Windpower Inc. is owned by Fred.Olsen Renewables USA.
Photo: Ken Winters, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers