Final approval needed to move forward on Icebreaker Wind Project

If you support renewable energy development, climate change action, and Ohio’s economic growth, Green Energy Ohio encourages you to consider signing this letter in support of Icebreaker Wind. Letters should be sent online to Courtney Lehmann clehmann@leedco.org or by mail to LEEDCo 50 Public Square, Suite 200 Cleveland, OH 44113 and must be received by January 17.

Green Energy Ohio has long believed in Ohio’s leadership potential in the wind energy industry. In 2005, Green Energy Ohio led a coalition that included the City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, NOAA, and numerous technical support organizations to install a 50 meter meteorological tower on the Cleveland Crib, the main intake for Cleveland’s municipal water intake supply, located 3 miles off the Lake Erie shore. For over a decade, this installation was the highest elevation wind test site in any of the Great Lakes. The data collected from the study demonstrated that the location was a strong Class 4 wind site and served as a basis for continued offshore wind research and development.[1] Further, this research confirmed Green Energy Ohio’s assertion that Ohio’s unique combination of resources, infrastructure, and location positioned the state to become a national leader in the wind energy industry.

In 2009, the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo), a nonprofit public-private partnership, was founded with a vision to make Ohio’s leadership potential into a reality by building a sustainable off-shore wind energy industry in the Great Lakes. Since then, LEEDCo has worked to develop Icebreaker Windpower, Inc., a 6-turbine demonstration wind farm off the Lake Erie coast.

The Icebreaker Wind project is the first of its kind: The first offshore wind facility in the Great Lakes, the first freshwater wind farm in North America, and only the second offshore wind project in the entire US.[2]

Studies conducted by government agencies and research institutions and exhaustive regulatory reviews have shown that the projected economic advantages and minimal environmental impact surpass expectations. In addition to improving Ohio’s air quality, Icebreaker Wind would address our growing vulnerability to climate change and advance Ohio’s position in the clean energy economy. This includes over 500 new jobs, an estimated 253 million in economic impact for the region over the life of the project and an introduction into the multi-billion-dollar offshore wind industry.[2] LEEDCo has also made it an objective to seek out companies within Ohio’s existing manufacturing base to become a part of this new offshore wind energy supply chain.[3] Simply put, with Icebreaker Wind, Ohio would be a national competitor in this rapidly growing market.

For these reasons and more, Icebreaker Wind is publicly supported by a diverse range of groups, including elected officials and local governments, labor and trade unions, universities and business networks, and foundations and nonprofit organizations. Green Energy Ohio has been a strong supporter of LEEDCo and Icebreaker Wind for many years and has provided letters of support in several public and government forums.

Before any major electrical generation facility can be constructed in Ohio, the project must go through a comprehensive approval process. LEEDCo was required to obtain approval from 14 local, state, and federal agencies that investigate every aspect of the project from concept and design through construction, operation and decommissioning.[4] Representatives of LEEDCo have presented at more than 400 public meetings and hearings to educate and engage citizens on the project.  Extensive lists of resources, project highlights, and FAQ documents are available to the public.

Today, all permits except one have been obtained, leaving only the Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need pending. The Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB), whose membership includes the Public Utilities Commission, the Ohio EPA, and the Ohio Departments of Natural Resources, Agriculture, Health, and Development Services, is responsible for issuing the final permit. While the OPSB staff has already recommended that the Board approve the Icebreaker Project based on the conditions governing construction and operations agreed to by LEEDCo., public support is crucial to ensuring Board approval.