Developer Wants Action on Stalled Lake Erie Wind Farm
The state permitting process for Lake Erie’s first offshore wind farm, Project Icebreaker, is back on track.
In a motion filed Friday afternoon, an Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) judge said Project Icebreaker’s developers have “provided the requested information that will enable staff to continue its investigation.”
Back in October, Siting Board staff asked to delay the case because they wanted more information about the project’s effect on birds and bats. The Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) filed documents in January and again in March in response.
In the middle of all of this, several Cuyahoga County residents filed documents in the case, saying LEEDCo’s data did not include scientifically valid information.
Project Icebreaker developers wished to waive the need for a second public hearing, but the judge rejected that, a consensus with OPSB staff.
The Ohio Power Siting Board will hold a public hearing July 19th at Cleveland City Hall. And there will be an adjudicatory hearing, where the developer and intervening parties can offer testimony, August 6th in Columbus.
A Cleveland company trying to build a set of wind turbines on Lake Erie has been waiting since last July for the state to certify its project. This month, the group filed another set of reports in the hopes of moving the process forward.
The documents filed by the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) looks at the impact six wind turbines off the coast of Cleveland might have on birds and bats. They include a March 2018 letter from the National Fish and Wildlife Service stating the project has “limited direct risk” to migratory birds and bats.
LEEDCo’s Beth Nagusky hopes these new documents will expedite the certification process for the offshore wind farm, which would be the first on the Great Lakes.
“We see absolutely no reason for any more delay on our permit application before the Ohio Power Siting Board,” said Nagusky.
But Matt Butler of the Ohio Power Siting Board says agency staffers don't want to act hastily. “This case is not only the first of its kind before the board, but it’s also the first of its kind as a freshwater wind farm proposed in the United States."
He says the board staff wants to take their time with the application, and make sure they have all of the information they need. According to Butler, the state delayed the permitting process in October 2017 because staff wanted additional information on LEEDCo’s plan to monitor the project’s impact on wildlife.
Nagusky says unlike the state process, federal permits should be in hand in the next few months.
Once the state permitting process starts back up again, the siting board staff will report on its findings and the agency will hold a public hearing in Cleveland.