Articles filed under Offshore Wind from Ohio
During a virtual meeting that involved a level of discussion and debate unusual for the Power Siting Board, board members unanimously voted to rescind part of an order they issued last May that approved construction of the wind turbines only if the turbine blades didn’t move at night between March 1 and Nov. 1, on the grounds that they would harm bats and birds.
A condition added to the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB)’s approval of the project that turbines should be shut down overnight for most of the year “renders the project economically not viable”, said LEEDCo, which has spent years planning the six-turbine Icebreaker offshore wind farm in Lake Erie, Ohio.
However, the developers of the project were less than satisfied with one of the conditions of the approval by the OPSB. According to the order, Icebreaker Wind must completely feather its turbines (stopping them from rotating) during nighttime hours from March 1 through November 1 as an initial bird and bat risk mitigation measure.
Two bird conservation groups sued the Energy Department and Army Corps of Engineers in an attempt to stop the development of a Lake Erie wind turbine farm about eight miles off the coast of Cleveland named “Icebreaker."
Building a wind farm in the midst of Lake Erie poses different engineering and technical challenges from the Atlantic Ocean. They include ensuring turbines can withstand the force of ice floes during winter. While huge cone-shaped turbine bases would be used to break the winter ice on Lake Erie, special "mono bucket" turbine foundations — mammoth steel suction cups that will be fixed to the floor of the lake — are meant to ensure the structures can handle subsurface ice keels.
LEEDCo describes Icebreaker Wind as a “demonstration project” and states among its other missions as an organization are to drive future offshore wind projects in the Great Lakes, creating thousands of jobs and contributing to clean air and water. The problem with the project for the Lake Erie Foundation and others opposed to offshore wind farms here is the potentially devastating impact it could have a migrating birds that traverse the lake.
Turbines could soon be twirling as the proposed wind-powered, electric generation facility in Lake Erie has moved another step closer to becoming a done deal.
“None of us are against wind turbines,” Lipaj said. “We’re saying because this project has such huge ramifications for Lake Erie forever that we just need to slow this thing down and research this the right way.” A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service field inspector in a 2017 letter also pushed for an environmental impact statement, urging “an analysis of the potential cumulative impacts of facilitating accelerated development of utility-scale wind power in Lake Erie.”
Among sticking points in the months-long negotiations between the board and the developers were measures to protect and monitor migrating birds and bats. Research director with the Black Swamp Bird Observatory, Mark Shieldcastle, explained that more than 1 million birds use the area for migration and foraging habitat every year.
Add it up: No net economic benefits. Environmental damages. Growing public opposition. A variety of likely legal actions. The Great Lakes are held in the public trust by each bordering state and Canada. Accordingly, any proposal that will pollute and endanger the lakes should be wholly rejected by the agencies charged with protecting them, in this case the OPSB.
“It’s unclear why a technology that is so expensive should be co-funded by U.S. taxpayers,” according to a statement Wednesday from Institute for Energy Research President Thomas Pyle. The $150 million project is eligible for as much as $50 million in federal funding.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in cooperation with other federal agencies, on Tuesday, Oct. 2, released a final environmental assessment of the project that includes what the agency calls a Finding of No Significant Impact, or FONSI. "This is the most significant single approval Icebreaker Wind has received to date."
Ice jams and bird and bat deaths will determine the answer
This project should be stayed unless or until it can assure minimal wildlife impacts based on the most rigorous science. The public should thoughtfully educate itself on the project before forming opinion. Icebreaker is the first small wave in a floodtide. Read the record, not just a “windustry” spin-doctor’s selective fantasizing.
The Ohio Power Siting Board has recommended conditional approval of the $126 million Icebreaker six-turbine wind turbine project proposed by the Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. 8 to 10 miles northwest of downtown. But the staff has included more than 34 conditions. The six-turbine wind farm is expected to look similar to this offshore wind farm near Block Island in the Atlantic Ocean.
North America's first freshwater offshore wind farm scheduled to be constructed in Lake Erie next year is receiving a strong boost from electrical and steel union workers, entrepreneurs and business owners who support the project's job-creation and clean energy potential.
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.
The project isn’t without detractors. Some worry about storms damaging the turbines. Others wonder whether the foundation can actually break ice. The project is getting international scrutiny, too. Environmental groups in Spain and the United Kingdom recently condemned it.
Environmental groups from Spain, France and the United Kingdom have now joined North American organizations in opposing a plan to build a pilot wind farm in western Lake Erie, near the Ohio shore, along the U.S. side of the border.
The U.S. Department of Energy is looking for the public’s input on what would be the country’s very first fresh water wind farm. The project known as Icebreaker, consists of six wind turbines located 8 to 10 miles offshore north of Cleveland.