The six-turbine demonstration project, off Cleveland, would be the US’s first freshwater project. It is being developed by Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) and Fred Olsen Group.
Local residents had objected to the project’s state permit, saying too many birds and bats would be killed and that environmental studies by the Ohio Power Siting Board had been inadequate.
The court disagreed.
Justice Jennifer Brunner wrote: “Rather than requiring Icebreaker to resolve those matters before issuing the certificate, the board determined that the conditions on its grant of the application were sufficient to protect birds and bats and to ensure that the facility represented the minimum adverse environmental impact.”
At an earlier stage in the legal proceedings, Murray Energy Corp, a major coal company that went bankrupt in 2019, was paying for expert testimony and the residents’ legal fees.
The €111-million project was to have come online in 2023, but has been delayed by at least a year.
A third of the power is under contract with the City of Cleveland and the local Cuyahoga County.
Will Friedman, president and CEO of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, told local media: “LEEDCo will need some time to regroup, market the power and determine next steps. We could not advance the project in any way while the Supreme Court case was pending.
“Even though we prevailed today, it’s been a detrimental delay for over a year. With certainty received from the Court, we can now focus on marketing the remaining two-thirds of the electricity it will produce.”
In 2021, the state Siting Board had imposed more than 30 conditions on the project, such as monitoring wildlife from the spring to autumn during construction and operation.