Cleveland, OH (March 17, 2014) – The Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) announced today that several key environmental groups support Icebreaker™, the 6-turbine offshore wind pilot project in Lake Erie that would be the first of its kind in the Great Lakes.
In letters posted on LEEDCo's website, The Ohio Environmental Council, Environment Ohio, The Sierra Club, Mom's Clean Air Force, Ohio Interfaith Power & Light, and Earth Day Coalition hail Icebreaker as a responsible first step toward building a new clean energy industry in Ohio.
Support from the environmental community is crucial for Icebreaker to secure the permits it needs to begin construction. The letters were included in recently filed permit applications with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Ohio Power Siting Board, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and several other state and federal regulatory agencies. Those applications also included an environmental assessment determining that the pilot project poses no significant risk to the birds and bats that frequent the area.
The Ohio Environmental Council (The OEC), the largest state-wide, membership-based environmental advocacy organization in Ohio, congratulates LEEDCo for balancing the need to develop a new sustainable source of electricity with the need to protect water quality, the fisheries and migratory bird paths over and around Lake Erie.
"LEEDCo has completed comprehensive studies, which demonstrate that Icebreaker will deliver cleaner air while avoiding harm to wildlife," said Keith Dimoff, Executive Director at The OEC. "The State of Ohio has an urgent need for more local sources of clean energy, and offshore wind could become a big part of the solution."
Bob Shields, Chair of the Ohio Chapter of the Sierra Club, the nation's largest grassroots environmental organization said "starting with a pilot project is a very prudent approach. Icebreaker will be an important data collection center to ensure future wind energy development in Lake Erie is done responsibly."
Additional letters describe offshore wind as an attractive option for the Great Lakes because it emits no pollution, can achieve significant scale, and can be developed in a responsible and economical way. The letters point out that the Great Lakes region holds over 700 GW (seven hundred billion watts) of offshore wind power potential and is the most dependent region in the country on electricity from coal fired power plants.
"Icebreaker will provide a significant local source of clean energy and help reduce pollution from our state's electric power sector," said Christian Adams, state associate for Environment Ohio. "Icebreaker's success is crucial for the future of our state."
LEEDCo is completing the engineering design, securing power purchase agreements and project finance, and developing the local supply chain. Construction is scheduled to begin in Spring 2017. Icebreaker is competing with five offshore wind projects for an additional $46.7 million investment from the U.S. Department of Energy. Three of the projects will be selected in May.
"We are thrilled to have the strong support of the environmental community in Ohio," said Dr. Lorry Wagner, President of LEEDCo. "Their support increases our project's likelihood of success and validates our community-based approach to offshore wind development. We are dedicated to working with all stakeholders to ensure that this project is built responsibly."
To learn more about Icebreaker, visit the LEEDCo website at www.leedco.org
Clarification Posted on March 20, 2014:
The Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. (LEEDCo) wishes to clarify The Nature Conservancy's (TNC) position concerning Icebreaker. A news release that LEEDCo issued on March 17, 2014, was reviewed and approved by TNC. However, after the release was issued, TNC requested that LEEDCo clarify TNC's position toward the project.
As a matter of policy, TNC does not endorse specific wind energy projects. In a letter commenting on the initial environmental assessment work associated with Icebreaker, TNC noted that LEEDCo is proceeding with care. "We believe that assessing potential biological interactions through pilot studies is a prudent approach and appreciate the interest of LEEDCo to obtain input prior to construction," TNC said. The letter also identifies opportunities to strengthen the assessment and encourages LEEDCo to reassess the potential risk to Kirtland's Warbler based on a recent study.
LEEDCo is committed to transparency and open engagement with all stakeholders and regrets any misunderstanding. The full text of the letter can be found in the 'Press Room' of the LEEDCo website.