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Ohio to Build First Offshore Wind Farm in Great Lakes, Aims to Boost Local Industry

Cleveland-based firm will begin construction on the 20-MW wind project in 2012, with the goal of spurring a turbine manufacturing industry in its home city

May 6, 2011
Cleveland, Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie

More than 30 million people live in the watershed of the five lakes — about 10 percent of the U.S. population and 30 percent of Canada's population.

According to a report by the Environmental Integrity Project, CO2 emissions from power plants in the eight Great Lakes states totaled an estimated 679 million tons in 2010, nearly 30 percent of the U.S. total for that year.

"Our commitment to renewable energy in the Great Lakes would take a huge bite out of carbon dioxide emissions across the world," said Terry Yonker, co-chair of the Great Lakes Wind Collaborative (GLWC) and president of environmental consulting firm Marine Services Diversified.

GLWC includes stakeholders from all Great Lakes states plus Ontario and Quebec, as well as federal agencies, environmental organizations and industry officials from the U.S. and Canada.

The collaborative met with the White House Council on Environmental Quality in Chicago last October to discuss the siting of offshore wind power in the region. The federal council is now drafting a memorandum of understanding with states to establish a roadmap for the offshore permitting process.

"We must improve and increase the lines of communication to bring wind development in the Great Lakes closer to fruition," Nancy Sutley, chair of the environmental council, said in a press release.

N.Y. Next, Mich. and Ontario Stall

After Ohio, New York could be the next state to bring offshore wind to the region.

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) is leading the public-private Great Lakes Offshore Wind Project to pursue the possible development of a 120- to 500-megawatt farm in Lake Erie and/or Lake Ontario within the next five years.

The NYPA issued a request for proposals in December 2009, following several months of community outreach. By June 2010, five developers responded with plans, and a winner was to be selected this January, though none has been named so far.

Tying up the proposal review could be opposition from seven shoreline counties and multiple communities that have issued resolutions against the Great Lakes initiative, citing fears of exorbitantly high costs to ratepayers and an unsightly shoreline.

In Michigan, a bill in the House Energy and Technology committee aims to modify a state law that allows the Department of Environmental Quality to lease state-held portions of lake bottoms for the purpose of wind energy development.

Thirty-five percent of Michigan's bottomlands, or 13,339 square miles, are suitable for offshore wind energy, according to a 2010 report by the Great Lakes Wind Council (GLOW) created by former Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

The council identified five priority areas for projects, called wind resource areas, in Lake Michigan, central Lake Superior and Lake Huron.

The ban proposal follows an attempt by the House energy committee last year to adopt a bill regulating offshore wind farms, which ultimately did not come to a vote. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder in the past has supported GLOW's efforts but said he would likely not make offshore wind development a high priority.

A moratorium in Ontario has indefinitely stalled offshore wind projects already under contract or in proposals. The provincial government in February said it would lift the ban once further research emerged on the industry's environmental impacts.

One contract and four applications were already in the works when the measure took effect.

Support from Other States Needed

North East Ohio's Lake Erie off shore Wind Turbines

This is fantastic to be part of building pollution free Wind Turbine Energy. The jobs in manufacturing parts and maintaining the wind turbines too is a major plus for our area!

Thank you to Ohio's new Governor Kasich for bringing jobs to Ohio and keeping it Green!

why do you put windturbines

why do you put windturbines into water?they would function on the shore as well

higher average wind speeds in

higher average wind speeds in lake than on land means more energy produced

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