Julie Grant Cleveland Ohio July 04, 2014
The U.S. doesn’t yet generate one watt of energy from commercial offshore wind.
A few years ago, it looked like the Great Lakes might lead the nation. Pennsylvania was among a handful of states working with federal agencies to speed up the process.
As recently as this spring, construction of a wind farm in Lake Erie, off the Ohio shoreline near Cleveland, looked promising. But now, there’s doubt there will be any wind development in the Great Lakes.
The idea for building a wind farm in Lake Erie near Cleveland was hatched ten years ago. Wind energy developer Lorry Wagner says leaders started looking toward the energy sector to create more jobs. That’s when they realized the region’s potential for offshore wind energy.
“The real resource is in the Lake. And the reason for that is you get about three times the energy due to the higher wind speeds and less turbulence than you do on land.”
The Department of Energy estimates the country has an offshore wind capacity of 4 million megawatts. That’s four times the generating capacity of all U.S. electric power plants.
Wagner is president of the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation, a non-profit known as LEED Co.
They started developing a pilot project, to build a wind farm out in the lake. Other Great Lakes states were also moving forward with offshore wind. In 2012, Pennsylvania, Michigan and others negotiated with federal agencies to streamline the permitting process. A proposed wind farm in Nantucket Sound called Cape Wind was mired in lawsuits, and it looked like the Great Lakes might be the nation’s first region to get a project in the water.
And LEED Co.’s wind farm was in line to be that project. LEED Co was in the running for a $47 million grant from the Department of Energy to get things started.
Standing on the Cleveland pier in late April, LEED Co spokesman Eric Ritter pointed out into the Lake, at where they plan to build six turbines. Each would be taller than the Statue of Liberty. Ritter was confident LEED Co. would win.
“We’re anticipating good news in couple of weeks.”
But they didn’t get good news. Last month, the Department of Energy granted the money to off-shore wind projects on the east and west coasts. Read rest of article here.