Icebreaker future uncertain despite OPSB approval

In: Windfarms
22/05/2020

The Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) has issued a conditional certificate, providing Icebreaker Windpower Inc. (Icebreaker Wind) an opportunity to move forward with the construction of six wind turbines in Lake Erie.

The
Icebreaker project is poised to be the first freshwater offshore wind energy installation in North America, and is to be located eight miles off the coast of downtown Cleveland. It is to feature six MHI Vestas 3.45 MW turbines with mono bucket foundations on Lake Erie, 8-10 miles off the shores of Cleveland. An 11.8 mile-long subsea cable route will connect to the Cleveland Public Power's onshore Lake Road 138 kV substation.

The approval includes 33 conditions which would need to be met if the project plans to move forward. These include the mandatory shut down of the turbines during night time hours from 1 March to 1 November as an initial bird and bat risk mitigation measure.

OPSB initially proposed the periodical nightly shutdown of the project in 2018 which left the project in a deadlock. At this time, LEEDCo had secured all the state and federal permits in place except approval from the OPSB. In May 2019, an agreement was made dropping the shutdown requirement following negotiations between LEEDCo, OPSB and Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Despite this, OPSB has now included the conditional shutdown within its approval.


David P. Karpinski, President of the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo), stated the condition for the shutdown of the project in this period "may well be fatal" to project.  


Karpinski further commented: "We are stunned by the OPSB Order today that, although they approved construction of Icebreaker Wind, added a significant condition that reneges on the agreement reached with OPSB Staff last May. Throughout the OPSB proceedings in this case, we made it abundantly clear that a requirement to shut down the turbines from dusk to dawn for the majority of the year renders the project economically not viable.


"Given the prior agreement signed off on by the Attorneys General representing the OPSB and ODNR, we were extremely surprised by their directive and learned of it only in the press release the OPSB issued immediately following the meeting today (21 May 2020)."


"We have been fully transparent with the OPSB Staff that this requirement makes the project economically unworkable and unrealistic, and they ultimately agreed and signed on to the Joint Stipulation in May 2019. Taken in full context of the entire Joint Stipulation, the OPSB Staff, with concurrence from ODNR, found that Icebreaker, subject to the conditions of the Joint Stipulation, represented the minimum adverse environmental Impact.


"In light of today's decision, LEEDCo will need to reconvene in the coming days and examine our options on how and whether we con move forward."


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