Lake Erie faces threat of offshore wind turbines

global flywaysWind turbines are proposed to be installed on Lake Erie as LEEDCO project developers re-submit documents previously deemed incomplete.  Environmentalists continue to raise alarms of serious harmful impacts to marine and avian species. If construction goes ahead well over 2 000 industrial wind turbines could crowd the waters of Lake Erie.  The Great Lakes are an important ecosystem and host location for globally significant flyways used by large numbers of migrating birds, bats and insects (such as monarch butterflies) from the far reaches of the world.

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A crane and drilling barge was anchored in Lake Erie about 8 to 10 miles northwest of Cleveland in 2015 at the site where LEEDCo hopes to build a six-turbine wind farm. Technicians were taking core samples and conducting other soil tests of the lake bottom for engineering studies.(John Funk/Plain Dealer file photo)

 

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The developers seeking to build North America’s first freshwater offshore wind project in Lake Erie moved a step closer to obtaining an essential state certification this week.

The Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. submitted two key environmental applications detailing its plans for monitoring and analyzing the impact of the six-turbine wind farm on birds, bats and fish.

Approval of the plans by the Ohio Power Siting Board is required before LEEDCo can proceed with construction of the $126 million Icebreaker Wind project planned for a site about eight to 10 miles northwest of Cleveland.

LEEDCo originally filed the two documents in April, but the applications were determined to be out of compliance, and were returned for an endorsement by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

“We’ve been working with ODNR for the past few months,” said LEEDCo’s Beth Nagusky. “These are the documents the siting board required. Once they are approved, the board will issue a public notice and continue the permitting process.”

Each of the so-called memorandums of understanding lays out plans to evaluate the environmental conditions at the lake site prior to the start of construction, during construction, and after the wind farm is built and operational….

The wind farm’s impact of greatest concern to birders and environmentalists involves the potential for high mortality rates due to collisions by birds and bats into the spinning fan blades.

LEEDCo acknowledges this fear in its document, but warns that monitoring and documenting casualties from collisions are difficult and pose unique hurdles not found at land-based wind farms.

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