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Wind power on the lake...when?

 |  12/18/09 @ 2:59pm

According to Great Lakes Energy Development Task Force executive director Steve Dever, Northeast Ohioans may see wind turbines off our north shore in 2013.

Not surprisingly, Ohio isn't the only Great Lakes' state or province working to capitalize on the renewable energy and economic opportunities presented by the Lakes. And we're not the only state hoping to earn the titles of first in the nation to develop offshore wind and first in the world to develop offshore wind in freshwater. In recent months the race for these titles has heated up.

In late September Ontario announced that Canadian Hydro Developers, Inc. plans to have the first 400-500 MW stage of a 4,400 MW project "churning out power" by 2014. And the New York Power Authority (NYPA) issued a request for proposals for the development of a 120 ? 500 MW offshore wind project in either Lake Erie or Lake Ontario on December 1st. Project awards are set to be announced in December of 2010.

The April release of the Great Lakes Wind Energy Center Feasibility Study was a milestone that Dever says puts Northeast Ohio ahead of the game. The Task Force has been commissioning studies, engaging stakeholders, and investigating funding sources since its formation in the summer of 2006; a lot of the preliminary legwork is done.

To maintain momentum and accelerate progress the Task Force created a nonprofit development corporation, the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo). LEEDCo is the legal organization to lead the effort and regionalize the project by garnering support from Ohio's coastal counties, from Ashtabula to Toledo. Cuyahoga and Lorain Counties are among the first to join. 

NorTech, the Northeast Ohio Technology Coalition, will be developing a business plan and governing structure for LEEDCo under the leadership of Richard Stuebi, local energy expert and BP Fellow for Economic and Environmental Advancement at The Cleveland Foundation. According to Stuebi, the goal is to establish and launch LEEDCo in a definitive way by June of 2010.

In spite of the broadened reach of the project, the size of the project being pursued will not change. Northeast Ohio will continue to work toward a 20 MW (8, 2.5 MW turbines) pilot project for the near term. A larger utility-scale project (100+ MW project), more in-line with those proposed by New York or Ontario, is being planned as a second phase.

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