Ohio group hails lake turbine study

An Ohio group, similar to a local advocacy organization that opposes turbines being placed in regional waters here, has called on governments and citizens to heed the findings of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority Great Lakes Wind Feasibility Study.

That study, which was released before the New Year holiday weekend, casts doubt on the justification for building wind turbines in Lake Erie and the rest of the Great Lakes. The Lakeside, Ohio-based Lake Erie Foundation says it supports renewable energy, as long as it does not risk the environmental quality, beauty and enjoyment of the lake.

“There are valuable lessons in this comprehensive examination for anyone charged with or concerned about the care and future of The Great Lakes,” Lake Erie Foundation Board Member John Lipaj said this week after a review of the NYSERDA Study. “New York’s Authority rejects the concept of wind turbines in the lakes, sending a strong message to other states and federal regulators.”

A potential 50 turbine proposal that targets the Western New York shoreline from Dunkirk to Buffalo sparked the creation of the Citizens Against Wind Turbines in Lake Erie group. Membership in the Chautauqua and Erie County group is reportedly growing and has the support of more than 4,900 on its Facebook page.

Ohio’s Lake Erie Foundation is concerned with a similar initiative.

Icebreaker Windpower Inc., a subsidiary of Fred. Olsen Renewables of Norway, has proposed building six massive wind turbines in Lake Erie off Cleveland. Icebreaker, the organization said, is a pilot for a project that could someday include 1,500 wind turbines, that would be built over as many as 75 square miles, according to the foundation.

In August, an Ohio Supreme Court ruling affirmed the placement of wind turbines in Lake Erie as part of the Icebreaker project off the shores of Cleveland. By a 6-1 margin, the justices ruled the power siting board employed “a flexible standing in granting the requested certificate (that) poses no legal problem.”

The Lake Erie Foundation has voiced opposition to the Icebreaker Wind project for the following reasons:

¯ There are serious environmental concerns, including the risks to birds, bats, fisheries and toxic sediment disturbance.

¯ The project is excessively costly at a cost of $173 million. The foundation said the same wind energy output with turbines on land would cost about $35 million.

¯ The turbines would be eyesores though located eight miles off the coast and 480 feet high.

¯ The economic benefit to Ohioans is extremely unclear as Icebreaker claims the project would create 500 jobs, however the majority of those would be temporary. By comparison, Lake Erie provides a $14 billion tourism industry and 124,000 ongoing jobs.

As part of its mission, the Ohio foundation “is to create and maintain a healthy Lake Erie now and forever.

“The result of having a healthy lake will be water free of impacts from harmful algae and contaminants with minimized impacts from invasive species. Sustainable practices on land and in water will help restore Lake Erie and provide resilience to its ecosystem, providing a valuable resource for drinking, recreational activities, lake-related businesses, and aquatic and terrestrial life,” the statement notes. “When Lake Erie is healthy, it is a highly productive habitat for fish and wildlife.”

For more information, the foundation can be reached at lakeeriefoundation.org.


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