The proponents for a six-turbine array offshore of Cleveland, formerly known as LEEDCo (Lake Erie Energy Development Corp.), Icebreaker, now called “Icebreaker Windpower Inc.,” are attempting to stack the deck in their own favor. While accepting Intervenor Status from those in favor of their industrial offshore proposal in 20% of the world’s remaining fresh water, Sierra, Ohio Environmental Council, Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters (the “Carpenters), and the Offshore Wind Business Network, the project’s team ignobly attempt to subvert democratic discussion, and apply to DENY the Intervenor application by Cuyahoga residents Vicci Weeks, and Caryn Good Seward and Steven Seward.
The lawyer representing the would-be Intervenors, Mr. John Stock, points out in his reply to the application to refuse, this is a blatant attempt “to quash any voice of opposition, and is “antithetical to the cornerstone of American Jurisprudence…..” Mr. Stock emphasizes the “manipulation” of the system, and possible “ramifications across the country,” if this attempt to quash were to be approved.
It is fairly clear again says Mr. Stock in his application, that the OPSB (Ohio Power Siting Board) suspended the Procedural Schedule, based on objections raised by his clients, Weeks and Stewards, regarding the numerous “defects” in bird and bat studies and mitigations of the applicant’s petition. Mr. Stock also references details from a survey in the Plain Dealer, where 57.87 percent of those surveyed disapproved of the Icebreaker project, and many more with no opinion, despite Icebreaker’s contention that 400 public meetings showed approval. As some have now pointed out, holding a meeting does not confirm approval, and may in fact demonstrate the opposite. Holding so many meetings, with inconclusive results for approval, and some inconsistencies in gathering of support with the Power Pledge, may indicate the difficulties that the developer is having to garner public interest and support.
Lawyer John Stock points out that his clients have a superior non-self-interested reason for objecting to the Icebreaker:
“The Cuyahoga Residents possess a direct, real and substantial interest in protecting Lake Erie birds---not simply the derivative interest that Icebreaker admits justifies intervention by the Sierra Club, the Environmental Council, the Carpenters, or the Offshore Wind Business Network.”
Sherri Lange, of the North American Platform Against Wind Power, along with key co-founders of Great Lakes Wind Truth, Canada and USA (Suzanne Albright, Al Isselhard and Tom Wasilewski), indicates that the opposition to the project is massive, and well beyond the few dozen supporters who appeared at the November public meeting at the Cleveland City Hall. The register of the breadth of the objection, she states, “has variously and for many years now, been logged with the DOE (Department of Energy), USACE (US Army Corps of Engineers) and the OPSB (Ohio Power Siting Board). Comments against the project have been received from Spain, the UK, Slovenia, Germany, France and AU, to name a few. Some commenters represent groups and individuals of thousands, and some in the millions. Approval for this energy project, whose developers envision 1400 plus offshore turbines in the Lake, as Representative Marcy Kaptur called it, “a Saudi Arabia of wind”, is not a matter of capturing a few dozen supporters at a public meeting: this is 20% of the world’s remaining fresh water reserves, and a virtual panoply of intersecting migrations, in the hundreds of millions of creatures. It is very clear from the comments to the OPSB and others, that the weight and volume of the objections must result in a denial of a construction permit.” Ms. Albright, a key organizer in the fight against the Icebreaker proposal, writes in her objections to the DOE: “Recalling the fourteen deficiencies, inefficiencies, omissions, and inaccuracies cited in LEEDCo's original permit application, primarily environmental in origin, it is clear that their ability to accurately and honestly protect the Lake Erie environment is severely lacking.” Albright adds that the entire proposal, which includes the less than appetizing purported expansion to over 1,000 massive machines in the Lake, is an “obscenity.”
The loss of the comments of objection under the former Case number for the project (Case No. 13-2033-EL-BG), renaming, and attaching a new Case number (Icebreaker 16-1871-EL-BGN) to the same project, with a new foreign colleague, Fred Olsen Renewables, also appear to be cause for concern. Lange points out that the in-depth concerns noted by the former Chair, Mr. Snitchler, have not resulted in appropriate study and surveys. The concerns and problems linger, have not been investigated or managed by the developer, and have as much impact on the project’s viability now, as then. The attempt to short cut due process and genuine concerns, some of which would take up to five or more years to fulfil, appears to be in play now, while the developer musters additional troops, and enlists an international Big Wind Player, Fred Olsen Renewables.
In 2014, Mr. Todd Snitchler, wrote that the application could not proceed at that time, and provided a laundry list of prohibitive omissions, errors, contradictions, and “minimal analyses.” Much of that critique centered around the need for more in-depth study of bird and bat populations, mortality, pre-and post construction studies of various kinds, as well as more study to be implemented regarding impacted residents along shores, impacts of ice throw, and impacts to the boating communities.
Ohio is home to serious birding efforts, creating an economy with its own magnetic economy. Birding in Northwest Ohio in one spring, accounted for a boost of $30,000,000 (Thirty Million dollars). The Ohio Sea Grant reports that tourism related to birdwatching in Ohio in six natural areas along Lake Erie,
“generated $26,438,398 in 2011, created 283 jobs for those living and working in these coastal communities, generated $8.9 million in personal income, and contributed $1.9 million tax revenues directed to local and state coffers. Birders visiting Lake Erie provide significant revenue infusions to the regions year around.”
Says Lange: “The Icebreaker Windpower project is entirely moot: there will be no meaningful benefit to Ohio and its citizens. The chimera of jobs and a boosted economy will never become material; the obvious loss to bird and bat life scarcely needs a comment.” Al Isselhard, also a Founding Member of Great Lakes Wind Truth adds: “Ohio has a Public Trust policy, for the people of Ohio, that includes protecting public trust held waters and lands underlying the waters of Lake Erie and minimizes the use of these lands for private development. The use of these lands under Ohio's Lake Erie water to be developed by a Norwegian company for profit - is absolutely contrary to Ohio Coastal Management Policy 16, Public Trust Lands.”
The DOE has the responsibility of fielding the project, determining if a “No Action” approach has more merit. It is challenged with the LEEDCo (Icebreaker) expressed and USACE defined mandate of:
- Serving electrical needs of consumers
- Reducing air pollution
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
- And, creating local jobs and spurring economic development.
None of these objectives can or will be met with this “icebreaker” project.
As it has been stated repeatedly around the world, wind “energy” is merely minimally additive to the energy mix, and will never stand alone, while the need for conventional back up to support the intermittent source will necessarily generate more greenhouse gas emissions from the ramping effect, than running alone at a steady rate. Further, it is hideous to think that these six turbines operating at a fraction of the time, will either serve the needs of consumers, or do anything whatsoever to mitigate fluctuations in climate. The project supports untenable, unreasonable and illogical premises, and needs to be aborted before more tax dollars are wasted.
If the OPSB reflects accurately on the comments and submissions, we believe that the result will be another laundry list of requirements, perhaps this time, terminal for a misguided, massively expensive, useless, “demonstration” idea.
CEO North American Platform Against Wind Power
Executive Director Canada, Founding Member, Great Lakes Wind Truth
VP Canada, Save the Eagles International
416 567 5115 Cell
Founding Member, Great Lakes Wind Truth
Lake Ontario Riparian Alliance
Wolcott, New York
Founding Member, Great Lakes Wind Truth
Rochester, New York