United States

United States

Icebreaker wins reprieve over night operations

The overnight operations ban on Ohio’s Lake Erie freshwater offshore wind project — over concerns about bird and bat welfare — has been dismissed

A map of the planned Icebreaker wind farm. Pic LeedCo.
A map of the planned Icebreaker wind farm. Pic LeedCo.

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The Ohio Power Siting Board has removed a ruling that would have prevented the project's six turbines from operation during the night from spring until autumn.

The 20.7MW Icebreaker Icebreaker (20.7MW) Offshoreoff Cleveland, Ohio, USA, North America Click to see full details project aims to build six 3.45MW wind turbines about eight to 10 miles off the shore of Cleveland in Lake Erie, with a combined capacity of up to 20.7MW.

Last month, the US wind project was granted a stay of execution following “valid objections” to the shutdown decision that could have made the Lake Erie wind project financially unfeasible.

Now, following the OPSB ruling, the Icebreaker project must comply with 33 conditions including conducting radar studies and a bird and bat impact mitigation plan.

A bird and bat risk mitigation protocol must also be approved before construction of the turbines.

Icebreaker, the Bratenahl Residents, the Business Network for Offshore Wind, the Sierra Club, the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenter and the Ohio Environmental Council all filed applications for rehearing after the ban earlier this year.

During an OPSB meeting that was held virtually on October 8, representative Jeff Grossman raised concerns over the language used in the order to approve the changes, that might have suggested the Icebreaker project planning application had in some way been “misleading”.

Grossman said the company’s application was “explicit, that there are no current plans for additional turbines, and it was inappropriate for the board to consider additional evidence not on the record".

He added that there was no evidence suggesting the word was appropriate, adding that he was concerned that the “word choice invites further litigation”.

In a reply from the chair of the meeting Samuel Randazzo said: “My sense is that the record is replete with discussion, that this is a project that has foundational significance, leading to potentially to a lot more turbines being installed in Lake Erie.

“That’s my sense of the significance of the word. I don’t think it creates any suggestion of risk one way or the other, quite frankly.”

Grossman, pressed home the point saying that he did not agree, adding that he thought the order could more usefully be approved without language that “suggests there is some sort of impropriety or irregularity in the application”.

The OPSB had previously ordered the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LeedCo) to stop operations of the Icebreaker project overnight between 1 March and 1 November, until the developer could provide data showing there were no adverse impacts on birds and bats.

The Icebreaker project was opposed by bird advocacy groups such as the Black Swamp Bird Observatory and the American Bird Conservancy.

LeedCo wants to kick off the building phase in the summer of 2022 with a commercial operation running before the end of 2022.

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