Erie is playing an important role in the process of developing an offshore wind energy industry on Lake Erie.
Wednesday, crews at Don Jon Shipbuilding loaded a barge with equipment to head out on Lake Erie, near Cleveland.
They'll ship out around midnight on Thursday, to take the first steps in the Icebreaker Offshore Wind Project.
For 10 to 12 days, a crew with the Lake Erie Energy Development Cooperation, or LEEDCo, will collect soil samples from Lake Erie. That information will then help designers of the turbines and the foundations.
The project would mean the installation of six wind turbines in Lake Erie, off the lake shore of Cleveland.
The non-profit says this is just the beginning of efforts to bring an offshore wind turbine industry to Lake Erie, "We are at the birth of an Offshore Wind Industry in Lake Erie," said David Karpinski, V.P. of Operations at LEEDCo. "So our vision is over the next 10, 15, 20 years, you see more and more and more wind turbines built in Lake Erie, providing all the electricity up and down the coast and providing a lot of jobs for people to live here," Karpinski added.
Erie county decided to partner with LEEDCo on the project just in April. County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper says it's great to see that partnership already paying off, with dozens of people at Don Jon already hard at work, "We want to make sure that we are part of the industry going forward, which we think will be a burgeoning industry here in the United States," said Dahlkemper. "We have the expertise, we have the manufacturing base that can really bring this forward and create that industry," Dahlkemper added.
The project could eventually mean thousands of jobs in the region, "I think it's a win win for everyone, there's plenty of work to do. There are so many skill sets needed, so many resources needed and we want to get as much as we can from the region," said Karpinski "The jobs are exciting because it's not just the turbine blades, its not just the turbine components. It's all the work, like behind us here, the deckhands, the welders, the captain of the vessel. So there's a lot of opportunity for a variety of skill sets that you need to build a wind farm" Karpinski added.
Offshore wind turbines have taken off in Europe. But if this project on Lake Erie moves forward, it will be the second off-shore wind turbine project in the country, and the first project in the Great Lakes.