CLEVELAND, Ohio – The project has been on the horizon for a decade and a half: six wind turbines erected in Lake Erie, in the first freshwater wind project in North America.
But fervor over the issue is revving up now among boaters, as the developer, the nonprofit Lake Erie Energy Development Co., works through stipulations with the state.
The Lake Erie Marine Trades Association — made up of boat dealers, clubs and other enthusiasts — opposes the $126 million, 20.7-megawatt project dubbed Icebreaker, planned for 8 miles north of Cleveland. So does the nonprofit Lake Erie Foundation.
Both LEEDCo. and its opponents point to hundreds of pages of documents they say prove their points.
The fight is not so much over the six turbines up for state approval right now – but for the wind farm it could precipitate: thousands of spinning blades the Lake Erie Foundation fears will desecrate Lake Erie.
LEEDCo. CEO Lorry Wagner says there are “currently no plans” for more turbines. “You can have all the dreams and aspirations you want, but until you climb that first hill and see what’s out there, you better focus on that first hill.”
But Icebreaker is a pilot project, with a $40 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. LEEDCo. has partnered with Norway-based Fred Olsen Renewables, and its website says “we can build an industry and supply chain in Northeast Ohio that will creation 8,000 new good paying jobs and pump nearly $14 billion into our economy by 2030… as the industry grows here.”
An expansion would require more studies and more approvals.
Said foundation board member John Lipaj: “You cannot treat this as a six-turbine stand-alone project. We have to be realistic and treat it for what it is.”……