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Lake Erie wind farm postponed until 2014

UNITED STATES: An Ohio county seeking to develop the up to 27MW Icebreaker offshore wind farm planned for the waters of Lake Erie has scrapped a recently-announced tender for geotechnical surveying, citing legal and weather reasons.

Cuyahoga County issued an invitation to tender for geotechnical services early last month, with a deadline for bids of 22 August. At the time, it expected the surveying to take place this month.

The invitation to tender asked companies to provide information about their engineering qualifications and pricing. However, the county’s legal team later advised against requesting both types of information simultaneously, explained Steve Dever, director of Cuyahoga’s Energy Task Force and board member of the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LeedCo), the public-private company that is working on the project with developer Great Lakes Wind Energy.
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The county decided to return the information that had been provided by interested parties sight unseen, and to issue a new invitation to tender in late winter. This is because the window of amenable weather for surveying is closing – waves on Lake Erie become too rough around mid-October.

This means geotechnical work will begin in early summer 2013 and complete by 1 August, said Dever.  As a result, LeedCo has pushed back the wind farm’s projected online date from 2013 to 2014-2015.

Icebreaker will be a demonstration project of up to 27MW. If successful, it will be followed by a 1GW project. The demonstration will feature between five and nine 3MW Siemens direct-drive machines, although no turbine purchase agreement has yet been signed.

LeedCo is also waiting to hear if it will be awarded a $4 million, one-year US Department of Energy (DoE) grant. An announcement was due on 31 August.

The project must also secure permits from more than a dozen agencies and its developers must sign a power purchase agreement, with Cleveland Public Power the most likely buyer.

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