LEEDCo: Nighttime turbine restrictions may be fatal for Icebreaker offshore wind project

The decision of the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) that turbines at the Icebreaker offshore wind farm in Lake Erie must be shut down during nighttime hours “may well be fatal to the entire project”, according to developer Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo).

As reported, OPSB recently approved the construction of the 20.7 MW project, but with 33 conditions, including that turbines must be shut down during nighttime from 1 March to 1 November as a bird and bat risk mitigation measure.

LEEDCo stated it is stunned by the decision and extremely disappointed the Board took this step backward for clean energy in Ohio.

“Today’s order is not an approval. A condition added by the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) may well be fatal to the entire project,” said David P. Karpinski, LEEDCo President.

“We are stunned by the OPSB Order that, although they approved construction of Icebreaker Wind, added a significant condition that reneges on the agreement reached with OPSB Staff last May.”

The project developer claims it had 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.

“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.”

LEEDCo emphasized that many parties concluded that Icebreaker will have no significant impact on the environment, including the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Additionally, the project was endorsed by environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Ohio Environmental Council.

The project developer concluded it will now need to reconvene and examine the options on how and whether the project can move forward.

Icebreaker is planned to comprise six MHI Vestas turbines with a nameplate capacity rating of 3.45 MW located some 10 miles offshore Cleveland.

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