The Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) has reached an agreement with the staff of the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) in relation to the 21MW Icebreaker offshore wind project.
LEEDCo says that having reached an agreement with staff, the next step is to seek approval from the Siting Board and the company is “optimistic that the permit will be issued later this year.”
Construction of the project, which LEEDCo is developing with Fred Olsen Renewables, could begin as early as 2021, though Icebreaker must first receive the permit from the Siting Board to move forward with installation.
The agreement was filed with the Siting Board on 15 May.
The six-turbine project, which would be the first freshwater offshore wind energy installation in North America, will be located over 12km off the coast of downtown Cleveland.
LEEDCo president Lorry Wagner said: “While there is more work to be done before we can formally proceed, this is a significant milestone for us.”
According to Wagner the new agreement details the extensive regulations that will govern the project and confirms the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ “important, ongoing oversight role”.
He added: “We appreciate the agency’s mission to protect wildlife and we look forward to winning approval of the final permit we need in order to construct Icebreaker and thus position Cleveland to becoming a leader in the booming clean energy economy.”
Icebreaker has already secured approvals from agencies including the US Army Corps of Engineers, the US Coast Guard, the US Department of Energy, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Aviation Administration and the US Department of State.
Icebreaker has been endorsed by a long, bi-partisan list of public officials in Ohio, organised labour, the Cleveland Foundation and environmental groups including the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Ohio Environmental Council.
Ohio has the largest wind energy manufacturing base of any state in the US according to the American Wind Energy Association.
Wagner said: “Icebreaker is a gateway to helping Ohio grow the industry.
“This project allows us to compete with the East Coast in the multi-billion dollar offshore wind industry. The clean energy jobs related to Icebreaker Wind will be a boon for our region and the state.”
Miranda Leppla, Lead Energy Counsel of the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) said extensive scrutiny of the project’s environmental impact led her organisation to support the project.
“The OEC is pleased to join in the revised agreement today which also includes the Ohio Power Siting Board Staff,” she said.
“The agreement contains important protective and precautionary measures for wildlife and Lake Erie, and allows this innovative project to move forward in the siting process.”
In addition to the data collection required by various regulatory agencies, monitoring and collaboration agreements have been signed with the Cleveland Water Department as well as the Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research, a 23-partner university and research consortium dedicated to protecting the waters of the Great Lakes.
LEEDCO is a non-profit regional economic development public-private partnership whose members include the City of Cleveland, Cleveland Foundation, Port of Cleveland and Cuyahoga, Lake, Ashtabula and Lorain counties and Erie County in Pennsylvania.
Icebreaker Windpower is owned by Fred Olsen Renewables USA.