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Plans announced for Lake Erie wind farm by 2012

3:37 PM, May 24, 2010   |    comments
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Strickland said that General Electric (GE) is partnering with Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) and that this is a long-term partnership.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason chairs LEEDCo and said the deal puts Cleveland ahead of other Great Lakes Cities seeking jobs and investment dollars from wind energy.

"People don't want turbines next to their houses or in their neighborhoods," Mason said. "Going out to the lake, where the winds first and foremost are stronger, but where you can't see them or hear them, is good. You don't even know they're out there. It's really just a nice efficient way to go about the process."

GE will provide 200 direct-drive wind turbines (and the accompanying maintenance services) that will be located out in Lake Erie, about six miles due north of Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Plans are to be able to produce 20 megawatts of power by 2012.

GE Energy

"We have already been in discussions with German companies, Spanish companies and Chinese companies to bring wind power to Ohio," Strickland said.

The conference and exhibition are being sponsored by the American Wind Energy Association.

Strickland said this is only the first step and that it would be followed by other projects, with a "long-term goal of 1,000 megawatts along Ohio's coastline in Lake Erie by 2020."

This would be followed by subsequent projects, with a long-term goal of 1,000 megawatts in the Ohio waters of Lake Erie by 2020.

Strickland is at the conference, as is Iowa Gov. Chet Culver and Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter Jr.

"Ohio's greatest potential for creating wind energy is offshore in Lake Erie, and this partnership marks a significant step forward," Strickland added.

"This partnership will not only advance offshore wind technologies, it will also advance Ohio's economy."

The LEEDCo/GE partnership builds on the momentum of a four-year effort by The Great Lakes Energy Development Task Force and other partners in Ohio to establish an offshore wind industry on Lake Erie, while leveraging the region's strong manufacturing base.

The Task Force, appointed by the Cuyahoga County Commissioners, spearheaded the feasibility study for an initial five to 20-megawatt offshore wind energy project on Lake Erie.

To date, approximately $2 million has been invested by The Task Force and its partners to determine the feasibility of offshore wind development in Lake Erie.

The analysis has involved collecting necessary data on a variety of technical and environmental issues, soliciting regional involvement and support, and working with the State of Ohio on regulatory and permitting issues.

In addition to collaborating on the initial 20-megawatt project, GE and LEEDCo will create a strategic plan to identify opportunities for cost reduction to make offshore wind energy in the Great Lakes economically viable.

GE and LEEDCo will also work jointly on advocacy and public policy issues to increase support for offshore wind energy, and accelerate the growth of America's offshore wind industry.

These activities will support a shared vision of making the Great Lakes a major economic engine for Northern Ohio, capitalizing on the region's skilled workforce and expertise in advanced manufacturing.

GE will give strong consideration to establishing an offshore wind facility in Northern Ohio once a sizeable market has been developed and a sufficient number of orders are contained in the pipeline.

"Offshore wind has the potential to create thousands of new jobs in Ohio and become a major source of economic growth.  Working with LEEDCo we have made significant progress to make offshore wind in Lake Erie a reality," said Vic Abate, vice president of GE's Renewable Energy business, and also President of AWEA's Board of Directors.

On Monday, Mason said, "This is a major step in a long process of putting turbines in Lake Erie. As one the country's largest companies, GE has the ability to further develop Northeast Ohio's supply chain and create thousands of jobs."

The Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation is based in Cleveland. It is a regional nonprofit economic development corporation, leading efforts to build, install, and deploy an offshore wind farm on Lake Erie while spurring economic development in Northern Ohio's wind energy industry.

LEEDCo's founding partners include the Cleveland Foundation, the City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Lorain County and NorTech.

NorTech Energy Enterprise, an initiative of NorTech, led the effort to launch LEEDCo, which was incorporated in late 2009.

WKYC-TV

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