ERIE, Pa. -- An Erie shipyard will have an important role in the next step toward developing an offshore wind energy industry on Lake Erie.
Donjon Shipbuilding & Repair, 220 E. Bayfront Parkway, is providing its 200-foot-long, 1,300-ton crane barge as part of the project, officials announced Wednesday.
A crew from the Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. will leave today on Donjon's Farrell 256 barge, said Dave Karpinski, vice president of operations for LEEDCo, a nonprofit organization that's working to bring offshore wind energy to Lake Erie.
LEEDCo is developing a six-turbine pilot called Icebreaker that's planned to be built on submerged land about 71/2 miles off the coast of Cleveland.
The crew will spend about two weeks on the barge, working 24 hours a day, at the six offshore sites, Karpinski said Wednesday.
The crane on the barge will help collect and test 12 to 18 soil samples, or about two to three per site. The sites are in about 60 feet of water.
LEEDCo is aiming to start putting the turbines in place in the summer of 2018, Karpinski said.
Erie County joined LEEDCo, based in northeast Ohio, in April, becoming the first county outside Ohio to join the partnership, officials with the project said.
"The Icebreaker project is the first step toward building an exciting new industry in the Lake Erie region with the potential to create thousands of jobs over the long term, many of which could be from firms here in Erie County," Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper said Wednesday during a news conference at Donjon. "Our decision to join LEEDCo earlier this year is a good decision for the future growth of manufacturing in Erie County."
LEEDCo, which began design work on the project in December, is aiming to build an installation capable of producing 18 megawatts. That number of megawatts is thought to be enough to power about 5,500 homes, according to Karpinski.
Dahlkemper said she was pleased the work involves an Erie business so soon after the county joined LEEDCo in the spring.
The county executive also said Wednesday that Donjon is in "serious discussions" for more work as the project continues to move forward.
"We always need to think regionally, and we know we have the manufacturing base to help build this," Dahlkemper said.
"We are excited being on the cutting edge of projects that will become much more common in the United States."