April 18, 2014

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Conservationists speak out as Lake Erie turbine project secures financing

Sheffield Lake is home to many pre-existing wind turbines that harvest energy. They can be found along Route 6 in front of the Shoreway Shopping Center. These are not the windturbines that will be made as part of future projects for LEEDCo. KRISTIN BAUER | CHRONICLE

Sheffield Lake is home to many pre-existing wind turbines that harvest energy. They can be found along Route 6 in front of the Shoreway Shopping Center. These are not the windturbines that will be made as part of future projects for LEEDCo. KRISTIN BAUER | CHRONICLE

A Cleveland-based energy development corporation has asked for Lorain County’s support for an offshore wind-turbine project — one that is quickly gaining ground.

The Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. — LEEDCo, for short — a nonprofit organization focused on creating offshore wind energy in Ohio, has been meeting with local stakeholders to gain support for the six-turbine demonstration project to be built seven miles from the Cleveland shore.

On Wednesday, a LEEDCo representative asked Lorain County commissioners to enter into a supportive agreement of the project.

COURTESY LEEDCO

COURTESY LEEDCO

County Commissioner Tom Williams said commissioners are waiting for the results of a report to determine if the project would be economically beneficial to the county. The results of that report should be available next year.

“If they can show economic development and it’s beneficial for Lorain County, then we’ll get on board,” he said.
“The hard part to get everybody involved is to prove it’s going to work.”

LEEDCo has already garnered the support of Environment Ohio, The Nature Conservatory, the Ohio Environmental Council and Interfaith Power and Light. Last month, Avon Lake City Council voiced its support of the offshore wind-energy project, known as Icebreaker.

The organization has received $4 million from the U.S. Department of Energy and is competing against six other offshore wind projects for one of three $46.7 million investments to be announced in May.

The total cost of the project is approximately $127 million, with additional funding to come from a combination of private sector equity and debt to be financed by the revenues of electricity sales, according to LEEDCo spokesman Eric Ritter.

LEEDCo President Lorry Wagner said the project is important because it could lead the way for more alternative-energy sources.

“There isn’t anyone in the region or the country who’s doing this,” he said.

Proponents of Icebreaker say that a focus on wind energy will help the country become less dependent on polluting energy sources such as coal. If LEEDCo receives the funding it needs, construction of the turbines will move forward in 2017.

But Icebreaker is not without its opponents.

New York resident Suzanne Albright is desperately trying to stop the project before turbines can be installed in Lake Erie.

Albright, who has been sending letters of opposition to local leaders, said the turbines will pollute, kill a large number of birds and are not a stand-alone energy source.

Albright, who said she is part of the Great Lakes Wind Truth and NA-PAW organizations, said she is hoping to receive a response from Ohio leaders.

“This issue will destroy those communities for this generation and the future if we allow this to go on,” she said.
“Wind turbines are not clean energy… if you’re going to put one in the lake, you have to excavate the lake bottom…

Each one of these will disrupt the lake with all of its buried sediment.”

Albright said she began researching wind energy when the New York Power Authority proposed building similar offshore wind turbines in the Great Lakes.

The New York Power Authority Board of Trustees scrapped its plans in September 2011 due to the high costs of the proposed Great Lakes Offshore Wind Project, known as GLOW.

The project was technically feasible, but the energy output from the turbines — 120 to 500 megawatts — would have cost two to four times more than land-based wind, according to a NYPA news release. The NYPA said annual subsidies of between $60 million and $100 million would result in high costs to the New York Power Authority.

Great Lakes Wind Truth and NA-PAW were outspoken against the GLOW project, with hundreds of residents in the town of Greece, N.Y., signing a petition against it.

Albright said other countries’ ventures into wind-energy development has led to high costs for consumers.

In Europe, top executives of companies that provide half of Europe’s electricity production capacity said
“distorting” subsidies for wind and solar power have led to whopping bills for households and businesses and could cause continent-wide blackouts, according to an October Wall Street Journal article by Geraldine Amiel.

Albright said her research shows wind turbines kill a large number of birds, which fly into the blades.

She added that turbines could pollute the water. She referred to an March 2009 incident in Altona, N.Y., in which a wind turbine tower collapsed, setting off a small fire.

According to The Associated Press, the turbine was part of Noble Environmental Power, a privately owned company with wind parks in eight states.

Ritter dismissed Albright’s claims, saying her group has no support from recognizable local or national environmental organizations.

He said LEEDCo is backed by numerous environmental groups.

Ritter added that several studies conducted regarding LEEDCo’s proposal have shown favorable outcomes.

A study conducted by wildlife expert Dr. Paul Kerlinger concluded the Icebreaker project will have “no biologically significant impact on the birds and bats that frequent the area.”

The study outlined construction tips to minimize the risks.

Kerlinger drew upon extensive survey data collected at the project location and reviewed the impacts on birds and bats of offshore wind farms in Europe and onshore facilities in the United States.

Cuyahoga County began using radar at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport to track bird migration patterns across Lake Erie in 2008. In 2010, the county installed additional radar equipment and an acoustical monitoring station four miles from the project location at the Cleveland water intake crib.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources also conducted visual surveys at the project site and along the shoreline.

Wagner said buildings and cars have been shown to kill more birds than wind turbines, although LEEDCo is taking steps to reduce avian fatalities.

“Of course, there are always concerns with birds and bats. One of the reasons that we are working on such a small project is so we can collect that data,” Wagner said.

Trish Demeter, director of clean-energy campaigns for the Ohio Environmental Council, said the Ohio Environmental Council believes that LEEDCo is taking all the appropriate precautions to ensure the best environmental outcome.

“We’re very confident that LEEDCo is taking environmental issues into concern,” she said.
Oberlin College professor John Scofield said there are uncertainties with any trailblazing project such as Icebreaker.

He said there are wind farms across the U.S., but he is unaware of any offshore, freshwater wind turbines in the U.S. Wind energy, including offshore wind, is prevalent in Europe, however.

Scofield, a physicist, works at Oberlin College’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, teaching physics and energy-technology classes. His current research focuses on energy efficiency and wind power, and he has conducted wind turbine feasibility studies at the college.

As an outside observer of the Icebreaker project, he said he is curious to see whether LEEDCo’s wind turbine design can withstand Ohio’s harsh winters.

LEEDCo consulted with a design team that has worked on more than 1,000 offshore wind-turbine designs in Denmark, Finland, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and the U.S. The “monopole design” will include technology to break up large sheets of ice and enhance the lake’s soil characteristics to increase stability, according to LEEDCo.

Scofield said while there are several uncertainties with offshore wind, the risks of wind energy are minimal.

He said there is an advantage to alternative energy sources.

While wind energy may not be a stand-alone energy source, it can reduce the reliance on other forms of energy, according to Scofield. “We need some other form of power to supplement the power grid,” he said.

Scofield criticized arguments against wind turbines. He said, while old technologies killed birds, studies have been done to implement different strategies to reduce fatalities. New wind-turbine designs, which feature slower-turning blades, reduce those deaths. Numerous studies must be completed to determine the migratory patterns of birds before a turbine can be built.

“When someone wants to put in offshore wind, there’s a tremendous push-back from people who live on the shore, because it’s very expensive property and they don’t want to look out on the lake and see wind turbines,” he said.

“No one will say to you that I’m fighting the wind turbines because I don’t want to look at them.”

Scofield said the LEEDCo project could be successful if it can secure private investors. He said in Germany, for instance, there have been “tremendous” subsidies for renewable energy, which has shifted the market.

“You don’t want to distort the market so much that you live with it for years and years,” he said. “I really do think we’ve got to encourage private industry… If private industry doesn’t think they can make money from it, we should be very, very wary of the government putting money into it.”

Christian Adams, state associate for Environment Ohio, said it is important to look for alternatives to coal-fired power plants. The American Lung Association estimated that coal plants kill approximately 13,000 people a year.

“I think the big picture is that renewables account for just a tiny percentage of Ohio’s energy supply… so I do support offshore wind development,” he said.

Supporters believe the project could be an economic boon for the state.

A 2011 Economic Impact Study completed by Kleinhenz & Associates indicates Icebreaker will create 500 jobs and result in $80 million of gross regional product for Ohio.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @ChelseaMillerCT.

  • tom wasilewski

    The Ontario Government imposed a moratorium over 2 1/2 years ago on any offshore industrial wind turbine development in Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes because of serious environmental questions. That wonderful “environmental” company Samsung had plans for 800 huge wind turbines in Lake Erie. At the time the Ontario Government indicated it would pay 20 cents per kilowatt for any power generated.

    This past week a third offshore wind project in the last month was cancelled in the UK. This was by Scottish Power (A subsidiary of Spanish
    Wind Developer Iberdrola) primarily due to high costs. These turbines were to be 662 feet tall (twice the size of the Statue of Liberty)) and could easily be seen for 20 miles. Expect the same size turbines in Lake Erie after LEEDCo gets the $ 46.5 million dollar U.S. Dept.of Energy grant (our tax money) for this demonstration project. Expect thousands of huge IWTs in Lake Erie in years ahead. Read Dr. Nina Pierpont’s article concerning Fish and Wind Wind Turbines Don’t Mix

  • LookBackTwo

    Can you imagine having to maintain these things during a typical NE Ohio winter? Dead seagulls? Muckleheads? Light pollution? Enjoy your sky rocketing electric bills!

    • 44guyton

      There is a “Steel Winds” on shore turbine array in Buffalo, NY. Many of those turbines were not operating during the winter and could not be repaired i.e. maintained because of the winter weather. Now imagine getting a maintenance crew out to a turbine array miles off shore in December, January and February!!

  • BITTERCLINGER36

    So wind turbines are bad, coal is bad, nuclear is bad, oil is bad, fracking is bad, natural gas is bad…….what are we supposed to use?

    • 44guyton

      I think you have to go back to why there was a push for “renewables” i.e. wind and solar. The arguement was that we (you and I) were contributing to “man made” global warming or climate change or climate disruption and that we were for “extraction” of fuel. In other words most human activity was bad. Now apparently wind was suppose to solve all those problems. Well if you look carefully at all data i.e. science, economics, the environment, electricity generation, wildlife issues huge industrial wind turbine arrays are not a good choice.
      Incidentally there is “extraction” needed for wind turbines i.e. rare earth minerals and oil for the gear boxes!

    • http://comradealan.com/ Alan Pugh

      Wind isn’t bad. “Great Lakes Wind Truth” isn’t a group of conservationists… it’s a group of coal pushers trying to milk the system dry rather than allow progress.

      • 44guyton

        I frankly don’t see anyone advocating for a particular fuel i.e. coal, gas or nuclear. That is better left to the engineers and scientist. Possibly hyro electric is a better base loaded alternative but there aren’t the natural resources such as NY Power Authority Niagara Falls. Interestingly Andrew Cuomo wanted to shut down the 2000 MW Indian Point nuclear power plant that is a base loaded unit. That was soon abandon. I guess someone told him that wind wouldn’t fill the bill and the alternative is another thermal power plant.

    • Phil Blank

      Cremate people for power.
      A dead heat – crematorium to sell power for National Grid – Telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk › Earth › Energy‎
      Nov 27, 2011 – “We don’t want to become known as a power station rather than a … and decent place for people to have a cremation service,” he added.

  • Mark B

    If they cant do it WITHOUT taxpayers dollars then don’t do it at all. If wind is so viable then it does not need subsidized.

    Germany’s wind energy Disaster
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2013/03/14/germanys-green-energy-disaster-a-cautionary-tale-for-world-leaders/

    Wind Energy Ghosts

    http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/02/wind_energys_ghosts_1.html
    NOT WITH OUR TAX DOLLARS !

    • http://comradealan.com/ Alan Pugh

      Germany’s *disaster*? Really? Germany’s renewable energy program has been an absolutely stunning success, despite a heavily funded campaign to distort that simple truth in American media. Even the woman they quoted in this article as a “conservationist” is a shill for the fossil fuel industry, fighting tooth and nail to keep the cash cow alive.

      http://cleantechnica.com/2013/09/20/new-york-times-gets-big-red-f-germanys-renewable-energy-transition/

      http://blog.rmi.org/separating_fact_from_fiction_in_accounts_of_germanys_renewables_revolution

      • 44guyton

        The name calling, accusations and emotions should be put aside. Rather critical thinking and science are a better and reasoned way to address the energy issues. I am looking forward to the day when the wind turbine companies actually release the real time production data for ANY wind turbine array. The EIA has tables for AVERAGE production data (capacity factor) e.g. New York’s is 23%. Never is there a discussion about the “value”. For example what “value” is wind energy if the turbines are producing when there simply isn’t a DEMAND or visa versa. As of this day there are not adequate or workable storage capability for wind energy.
        Incidentally I’d hardly call Germany’s high electric rates a “stunning success”. Personnaly I don’t care if Germany pays 3 times the rate for electricity than we do in the U.S. Just don’t bring it here!

        • Suzanne Albright

          I am the person quoted in this article. I am a member of Great Lakes Wind Truth, not a coal promoting organization, but a dedicated group of individuals committed to protecting the Great Lakes from industrialization by the corrupt wind industry. The Great Lakes are the most incredible fresh water system in the world, once polluted by decades of unregulated dumping of chemicals, toxic waste from industry and agriculture, resulting in fish deformities, tainted drinking water, fisheries and other environmental casualties. Lake Erie was once called a “dead lake” as a result. These toxins are now buried beneath the lake floor, or encapsulated, but will be excavated and recirculated if the lake bottom is disrupted with turbine placement. Is this worth the risk? Those of us living near Lake Ontario fought HARD to prevent NYPA from destroying Lakes Ontario and Erie, and even though one of the reasons they failed to place wind turbines was due to the hideous economics of this scam industry, Great Lakes Wind Truth was successful in educating people regarding the inefficiency, intermittancy, and astronomical expense of wind energy in addition to the environmental degredation it causes. We are honest, sincere citizens who care deeply about the Great Lakes. I am sorry the reporter who wrote this article failed to use the data that I supplied her, but that is a risk when talkng to the liberal media. They tend to spin the facts, and that happened today. Please visit the Great Lakes Wind Truth web site if you are genuinely interested in reliable data. Educate yourselves, and then draw your own conclusions. Kind regards, Suzanne Albright.

          • derp

            So the lake is ruined from irresponsible industrialization that made it a dead lake, Now we want renewable energy and you think we shouldn’t because of all the damage done by industrialization?

            Self defeating isnt it? Or just keep pumping the pollutants into the lake and Im sure we can just catch it on fire again?

          • Suzanne Albright

            First, please explain how wind energy is “renewable”, It blows intermittently, rarely at the speed necessary for sustained energy production, and never during peak demand time. The ramping up and down of back up, especially if coal, results in higher CO2 production than when running at a steady rate on its own w/o backing up wind. This is proven in Denmark, where their CO2 emissions are the second highest in all of Europe since 2006- since their wind energy bonanza of over 6,000 turbines. Second, “energy sprawl”, desctibing the vast amount of area needed for small amounts of wind energy production, is destroying forests, mountain ridges, and potentially the Great Lakes. A few acres needed for a gas fired plant will produce 882 MW of electricity 24/7 while hundreds of square miles is needed for 800 turbines- 40 stories tall, to produce 300 MW of power when the wind blows @ the right speed- these figures come from a Scottish wind farm analysis in 2010. NO ONE is suggesting coal is the answer. But let’s be clear- billions of your tax dollars going into the pockets of a few wind developers who will then walk away when these filthy monstrosities age out, rust, leak oil and otherwise fail in 15 years leaving behind a rusty, oilty industrial junkyard in the lake is NOT an answer. Just look at Calif. and Hawaii if you don’t believe me. PLEASE do your homework- don’t take my word for it. You will be disgusted…

          • Dave Sommers

            You sound like a walking encyclopedia! Boring!

          • Pete

            Coming from someone who only reads the comics, and still has difficulty understanding?

    • derp

      Same should go for the NFL teams. 46 million is a drop in the bucket compared to the HUNDRED OF MILLIONS WE WASTED on those loser cave man sports teams and best of all is we would actually get a return out of that investment.

  • Jim Wiegand

    The study may have outlined construction tips to minimize the risks but these are pretty much meaningless because these turbines are such prolific killers.

    I will also add that Kerlinger drew upon completely unreliable survey data collected at the project location and reviewed what very little is actually known about the impacts on birds and bats at offshore wind farms in Europe and onshore facilities in the United States. I say this because the industry routinely rigs mortality studies that hide most of their mortality. I wish I could square off with Mr. Kerlinger in front of a televised uncensored congressional committee on this. I would make him look like Elmer Fudd.

    The studies that were conducted for these turbines are terrible and the public should be outraged. There is also another aspect that has not been mentioned about this project. They are being promoted as ice breakers. Open waters around these turbines in the winter will attract birds that that in turn will be killed by these turbines.

  • Mark B
  • Mark B
  • Mark B
  • Mark B

    Violent Environmental Problems With Wind Turbine Operation: From Avian Mortality to Catastrophic Failure

    http://www.masterresource.org/2013/04/violent-environmental-problems-with-wind-turbine-operation-from-avian-mortality-to-operational-failure/

  • Mark B

    I suppose all of this info is Lies
    Customers face huge bill for wind farms that don’t work in the cold

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1345439/Customers-face-huge-wind-farms-dont-work-cold.html

  • Guest
  • Alan Isselhard

    Those that support the LEEDCo Icebreaker project who call
    this a “clean” project should think about the certain avian slaughter, sediment
    displacement when turbine towers are placed and cables are buried from turbine to turbine and then to shore. They need to think about the heavily polluting process of manufacturing generator magnets from rare earth materials in China.Leaking fluids from the nacelles into the lake, turbine fires, broken blades,turbine destruction by lake ice – how “clean” is all this for volatile,expensive, incurable intermittent electric from a system that won’t last 20years!

    Have a look at the Steel Winds project on the shore of Lake Erie near
    Buffalo and review its deplorable history. LEEDCo’s in one of their power point
    slides says their vision is 5,000MW in Lake Erie by 2030. Supporters need to
    think about the lake’s future not next week! By accepting this project you’re
    not talking a mere 6 turbines – you’re endorsing hundreds – maybe thousands of these monuments to lunacy in Lake Erie – the beginning of the industrialization of Lake Erie. Can you imagine what this would make the lake look like for the rest of your life? Foreigners will soon inundate the Great Lakes with offshore turbines as near to shore as they can get away with. Those unfortunate enough to have to deal with erasing the remains of LEEDCo’s debacle 30 years from now will be asking “What were they thinking of?” Ontario has already placed a moratorium on this high impact – low benefit misfit technology in the Canadian waters of the Great Lakes. How smart!

    Please visit bewareleedcoicebreaker.blogspot.com/ for more
    information about this butchering of the seascape.

  • tom wasilewski

    The largest publicly traded oil companies in the world have their own wind divisions-these are BP (remember them in the Gulf), Shell, Chevron, and even Exxon-Mobil joined in as the largest gear and transmission oil supplier to the wind industry. Hey, there is a fortune to be made in the wind industry on the backs of the taxpayer and electric ratepayer. Check it out yourself – go to the National Wind Watch website to read newspaper accounts by state and country about how the fossil fuel industry hedges their bets with the help of local, state, and federal politicians. See what BP is doing in Cape Vincent, NY (Lake Ontario shoreline community) where most of the people don’t want these huge inefficient, costly monstrosities in their backyard or front yard.

    Recently at an industrial wind turbine project at Bigelow Canyon, Washington a single wind turbine caught on fire and 600 gallons of gear oil spilled out. Imagine what will happen on the huge IWTs proposed for Lake Erie when a turbine breaks down or an accident occurs especially when winter sets in and the turbines cannot be serviced or an oil spill cleaned up fast enough.

  • tom wasilewski

    Germany no longer has love affair with wind turbines, According to Forbes Magazine electric prices have doubled in Germany in the last ten years primarily to subsidize industrial wind. Beginning in 2014 residential households there will see a surcharge of 8.5 cents per kilowatt to help pay for alternative energy ( overwhelmingly for IWT) per 10/25/13 Deutsche Welle article.

    Reuters reported that by 2020 residential customers will have to pay 40 cents per kwh – right now they are paying 35 cents per kwh ( check your First Energy bill to see how that stacks up). Der Spiegel recently reported that German consumers already pay the highest electricity prices in Europe. Soon these higher electricity prices will effect German industry and they are worried industries will move out of country.– currently over 2,000 German companies have exemptions from paying higher electricity bills subsidized by taxpayers and other ratepayers (including those companies without a lobbying arm) but these exemptions are being criticized heavily. Some offshore wind companies there have recently went bankrupt before the projects were completed-offshore wind costs are 3-4 times higher than onshore wind projects (and that electricity is extremely costly as it is). High electricity costs will drive high electricity usage companies out of Ohio to areas like Tennessee and the Pacific Northwest which have much lower electricity costs. LEEDCo vision of 5,000 MW of offshore wind turbines at a cost of $ 20 BILLION Dollars will drive many companies to leave the leave the region taking thousands of jobs with them.

  • marykaybarton

    According to industry giant, E.On Netz, “Wind power construction must be
    accompanied by almost equal construction of new conventional power
    plants, which will be used very nearly as much as if the wind turbines
    were not there.” https://www.wind-watch.org/doc…/eon-netz-wind-report-2005/

  • marykaybarton

    The main thing being produced by UK offshore Wind Farms – Rust… and CO2:
    http://hat4uk.wordpress.com/20

  • marykaybarton

    Cars, cats and buildings do NOT typically kill eagles, condors, whooping cranes, bats, and many other already endangered avian species -
    Industrial wind turbines do.

    Furthermore, cars and buildings have greatly improved the quality of
    life for hundreds of millions of people, while industrial wind turbines
    have done exactly the opposite.

    These giant “Bird Cuisinarts” (as a Sierra official dubbed them in a moment of candor) are very negatively impacting wildlife, and many people worldwide are suffering ill health effects and severely diminished property values because of industrial wind factories being sited TOO CLOSE to where people live – devastating the civil fabric of many communities, and the environment in the process (ie: massive Habitat Fragmentation).

  • marykaybarton

    PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION to END Industrial Wind’s 30-Year FREE PASS To Kill Eagles! “http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/end-industrial-winds

  • marykaybarton
  • marykaybarton
  • SniperFire

    Y’all missing the point. It make Liberals all warm inside to see them.

    • Mark B

      at the cost of the tax payer and the energy user , if this passes there will be heads that roll on council

  • NoBirdChoppers

    This is what our shoreline now looks like in Ontario, Canada, just across the lake from you guys. How would you like that?

  • Jim Wiegand

    At first there will be six. They will study the problems forever, important people will talk about it in the news, they will hold your hands, pretend yo review your comments, and give your hearings so you can scream out with disgust. But if you let one in, they will never stop building. Then one one day you will look around and there will be hundreds or even thousands. Just ask the people around Altamont pass and Tehachapi Pass.

  • Jim Wiegand

    It amazes me that companies and leaseholders could ever be allowed to proceed with these devastating wind projects and then be allowed extract profits after inflicting such massive destruction. It also amazes me that there are so many cowards and people willing to sell out that work for the Interior Department.

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