Wind power support sought
Offshore wind turbines would bring economic development and local green energy to the region
You may have heard about the offshore wind project that is being proposed for Lake Erie. Offshore wind power has been used in Northern Europe for about two decades and is a proven source of local renewable energy. Until now, the wind farms in the United States have been built on land, with states like Texas, California and Iowa leading the way. Wind studies show that offshore wind power is also a great source for renewable energy in the United States and our region is in a unique position to benefit from this industry.
Enter Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation, LEEDCo, a non-profit organization that was formed several years ago to lead the development of offshore wind power in Lake Erie. LEEDCo represents many stakeholders including the City of Cleveland, Cleveland Foundation, NorTech, and the lakeshore counties of Cuyahoga, Lorain, Ashtabula and Lake.
LEEDCo has been approaching lakeside communities to gain resolutions of support for the offshore wind project. So far, resolutions have been passed in Avon Lake, Lakewood and Euclid. On Jan. 13, Dave Karpinski, vice president of operations for LEEDCo, made a presentation to Bay Village City Council to request a resolution of support for the project. City council is considering the non-binding resolution. Similar meetings are planned for Rocky River, Bratenahl and Lorain.
According to Mr. Karpinski, one of the reasons that offshore wind power is considered a viable source of local renewable energy for this region is that the wind off shore is 3-4 times more powerful than the winds over land in Ohio.
A study released by the Natural Resources Defense Council in 2011 found that Ohio has among the dirtiest air in the country, largely because approximately 80 percent of our electric power currently comes from coal burning plants. Offshore wind power offers this region a viable option to start diversifying into more local renewable energy sources.
The LEEDCo project has developed a very detailed plan which addresses many of the concerns that are typically raised concerning offshore wind power. The wind turbines will be approximately seven miles from the Port of Cleveland. This means that on a clear day, they will be barely visible on the horizon. The siting location has been carefully chosen so as not to interfere with shipping channels and migratory bird flight patterns.
From an economic standpoint, the initial project will create 500 jobs for the region. The larger project is estimated to create 8,000 jobs by the year 2030. These jobs include both construction and maintenance for the wind turbines.
The initial demonstration project of six wind turbines (3 MW each) would generate enough electricity to provide 10 percent of the power to 55,000 homes and would be completed in 2017. LEEDCo hopes that a demonstration project will help lead to future utility scale projects that could reach 5,000 MW over the next two decades. Under this scenario, offshore wind would generate approximately 11.5 percent of all power needs in Ohio, and power an estimated 2 million homes.
The next step for the project is to submit its detailed plan to the Department of Energy by Feb. 14. Only 3 of 7 projects currently vying for the next round of funding will be awarded the grant money that has been earmarked for offshore wind power development. Approximately 35 percent of the project funding would come from federal grants ($46.7 million) and 65 percent would come from private funding in the form of equity and debt ($84 million). Initial project costs are high due to the research and development involved to optimize the construction and maintenance of wind turbines in a fresh water lake that freezes in winter.
Community support is important! Visit the website at www.LEEDCo.org to learn more and pledge your support for the project – and watch for more developments over the next several weeks as the project deadline for submission to the Department of Energy is Feb. 14.
Have a "green" topic to suggest for a future article? Email it to email@example.com. The Green Team meets the second Tuesday of every month at the Bay Community House, 303 Cahoon Road.
Co-Chair of the Bay Village Green Team