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LEEDCO Pushback (Great Lakes’ proposal fails economically, environmentally)

By Sherri Lange -- August 25, 2020

It is high time that real environmentalists stand up. Government subsidies and business cronyism to despoil pristine nature is surely a call-to-arms about the limits to growth.

Al Gore? Bill McKibben? Where are you? Do you want another data point for a sequel to Michael Moore’s Planet of the Humans?

As it is, a group of Ohio Representatives and Senators is showing their environmental bona fides–and respect for electricity ratepayers– regarding the Icebreaker Wind Turbine Project (aka Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation, or LEEDCo).

Refresher: LEEDCo is a six-turbine, 20.7 MW offshore wind demonstration project eight miles from downtown Cleveland in Lake Erie. The first freshwater offshore wind project in North America, the project has received huge subsidies from the US Department of Energy in addition to the federal Production Tax Credit. But with $20 million spent since 2009, economic, ecological, and political problems have LEEDCo on death watch. (The last press release from October 2019 reported a $10 million DOE grant to LEEDCo.)

Their August 10, 2020, letter follows:

Chairman Sam Randazzo
The Ohio Power Siting Board
180 East Broad Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215
Case Number: 16-1871-EL-BGN

Mr. Chairman:
As members of the Ohio General Assembly, we would like to comment on the decision made by the Power Siting Board as it relates to the Icebreaker wind turbine project. This project would be the first offshore wind facility in the freshwaters of the Great Lakes. This project is being sold as environmentally and economically friendly, but we see this as an environmental and economic gamble with Ohio’s most precious natural resource.

LEEDCo stated that the conditions approved by the Power Siting Board are a “poison pill” for the project and are requesting reconsideration. We have serious reservations about this project, and while we do not want this project to move forward in any form, we would urge the Power Siting Board to remain firm in their original ruling and retain ALL conditions in the approval ruling.

Specifically, we have grave environmental concerns about this project:

  • According to LEEDCO, each turbine will contain 404 gallons of industrial lubricants in their gearboxes. Wind turbine gearbox seals are known to fail, leaking oil and grease onto the area below. Turbines are also known to catch fire and explode. Do we want those toxins in Lake Erie? We don’t think Ohioans do.
  • The Army Corps of Engineers had been dumping dredged industrial toxic sediments, such as PCB’s, from the Cuyahoga River into Lake Erie for nearly 100 years. Those toxins are currently encapsulated under layers of mud and silt which will be released while building turbine foundations & laying 12-plus miles of transmission cables.
  • Cleveland’s main water intake, the Crib, is located just down-current from this location. Do we want to risk Ohio’s main source of fresh drinking water? We don’t think Ohioans do.
  • The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service recommends siting wind turbines at least 3 miles away from the open waters of the Great Lakes, because of confluence of migration routes over the Great Lakes, including Lake Erie. There have also been recommendations that this project warrants a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). One has not been undertaken. We believe that Ohioans are owed a full picture of the impact of this project before it moves forward. In fact, we believe that if there are any changes to the approval by the OPSB, there should be a stipulation added requiring that an EIS be conducted.

We have economic concerns about this project:

  • Icebreaker and LEEDCo have touted this project as a job creator. However, the facts show that very few permanent jobs have ever been created by these types of projects.
  • Higher electric costs from wind power have actually resulted in manufacturing job losses in parts of North America, specifically nearly 300,000 lost jobs in Ontario which barred further turbine construction on land and never allowed turbines in Canada’s portion of the Great Lakes.
  • The facts show, according to LEEDCo’s own consultant’s study (document DOE/EA-2045), that the Icebreaker project could generate 159 temporary onsite construction jobs for local workers. An additional 187 specialized temporary construction jobs could be created for “highly specialized workers who would come from outside of the area and would remain only for the duration of the construction.” The report is vague about how it would create the additional 150 jobs to reach their bizarre claim of 500 jobs. It’s an outlandish claim, to help the developer secure the regulatory approvals and government funding needed to move forward with their plans.
  • Indeed, that same report states that Icebreaker could create 9 permanent jobs. That is a more realistic estimate based on the number of actual permanent jobs created by a Block Island offshore wind facility in Rhode Island, the only such facility in the U.S. today.

We understand and respect that all jobs are important, but we do not think Lake Erie should be put at irreparable risk for a handful of permanent jobs when the economic losses associated with an unhealthy Lake are far greater than these hypothetical gains.

Mr. Chairman, thank you for your consideration of this perspective. We respectfully request that you remain firm in your conditions for approving the development of these turbines in our precious Lake Erie.

Bill Reineke (88th House District); Craig Riedel 82nd House District); Bill Seitz (30th House District);

Matt Huffman (12th Senate District); Rob McColley (1st Senate District); Dave Burke (26th Senate District);

Nino Vitale (85th House District); Jon Cross (83rd House District); Dick Stein (57th House District);

Sara Carruthers (51st House District); Don Jones (95th House District); Tracy Richardson (86th House District);

Cindy Abrams (29th House District); George Lang (52nd House District); Phil Plummer (40th House District).


  1. LEEDCO Pushback (Great Lakes' proposal fails economically, environmentally)Climate- Science.press | Climate- Science.press  

    […] post LEEDCO Pushback (Great Lakes’ proposal fails economically, environmentally) appeared first on Master […]


  2. Helen Schwiesow Parker, Ph.D., LCP  

    Infinite thanks are due the 15 Ohio Representatives and Senators so clearly voicing their grave concerns re inevitable impacts of the proposed Icebreaker Wind Turbine Project: toxins to be released up-current from Cleveland’s main water intake to mention one, higher electric costs leading to regional job losses, another. May their due diligence, courage and wisdom inspire an infinite number of elected officials around the world.

    The courts have a better record of listening to the truth, but precious few of our supposed “representatives” care to, and of the open-minded public servants who do their homework, who study the facts of the BigWind industry and its faulty technology, many if not most are over-ruled by “regulatory capture,” higher-level revolving door politics spinning between bureaucratic offices and corporate board rooms.

    The critical first industrial-scale obliteringly enormous offshore array planned for the US East Coast, 15 miles off Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, is in that position now, with the MA “DEP” (?!?) attempting to overturn the local board’s cable permit denial for the 800MW array. Our state and federal reps support the project, despite its being planned spot in the middle of the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale habitat, in an area historically ravaged by hurricanes.

    See “The Fishermen’s Meeting – Edgartown.6.27.19” on YouTube for the 90-minute condensation of a passionate 5-hour community discussion leading to the Conservation Commission’s historic denial, which was immediately challenged/appealed/back to over-rule at the state level.

    Sadly, …pitifully… the Nantucket Board of Selectmen recently attempted to sell out the entire region: pristine and rare island ecosystems, marine environment and species, tourism economy and historic legacy – in exchange for a paltry $34.4 million over 45 years. https://www.capecodtimes.com/news/20200816/vineyard-wind-to-pay-nantucket-344m.

    Bringing the usual complicity of the media to the forefront, most remarkable and distressing is that, in reporting on the deal, the Cape Cod Times did not note that it was made behind closed doors, no public process, no community discussion as one might expect to be facilitated and encouraged by the local boards and press. They should all be so ashamed.


  3. Sherri Lange  

    Thank you Dr. Helen Schwiesow Parker. If anyone has not seen the Fisherman’s Meeting as referenced by Helen, please take the time. Praying that the denial of the cable permit stands. There are so many reasons to not allow turbines in the Great Lakes, and the mirror of that debacle would be the Coast. Should it happen. We are thankful when our legislators stand up and actually name the harm, and warn of the “experiment,” the “gamble.” The gamble would be clearly reproduced if the developers get their way. What is astonishing among many things, is that the false lure of jobs and job chains is not relegated to Fiction. Block Island: now a Senate Commission wants answers.

    “PROVIDENCE — A Senate commission wants to know who is to blame and who is going to pay to bury the exposed electric cables from the Block Island Wind Farm.

    The Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) said its geologist recommended before construction of the offshore wind facility that Deepwater Wind, now owned by Denmark-based Ørsted, bury the two cables 6-8 feet deep using a process known as horizontal directional drilling.” https://www.ecori.org/renewable-energy/2020/2/17/senate-commission-wants-answer-on-exposed-block-island-wind-cable….

    “The 34,500-volt power line from the five-turbine Block Island Wind Farm reaches shore at Fred Benson Town Beach and leaves the island for Narragansett at Crescent Beach to the north. Keeping portions of the cables buried at Crescent Beach has been a struggle for the past four years.

    The independent engineers didn’t do their homework on the geology of the beach area, according to Fugate.”

    We can only imagine more problems for Icebreaker, LEEDCo, should it materialize. It is clear that these developers also did not do their homework, on fish, birds, bats, drilling, ice impacts, no decommissioning plan that we have seen, and no accounting.

    The Fisherman’s Meeting video is still my go to video to banish any romantic ideas of offshore wind.

    How many errors and miscalculations and over estimations, under reporting, does it take to shut this all down?


  4. Michael Spencley  

    This one of the few times that politicians have been brave enough to stand up and speak the truth about the harm and waste of money inflicted by industrial wind turbines. They have succinctly demonstrated their ability to synthesize the issues and represent their constituents appropriately. My hat is off to them.

    The system is severely flawed when grants in the millions of dollars are handed out to foreign companies before a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) has been completed. It is clearly an unnecessary waste of taxpayers’ dollars. As Lange points out, this brave group of Ohio Representatives and Senators should serve as an example of exemplary governance. Thank you to Master Resource and Sherri Lange for reporting this important revelation.


  5. Sherri Lange  

    Thanks Michael Spencley. Your reply emphasizes the good governance of these politicians, and I am impressed with their understanding, expressed succinctly, of the financial stress of such a proposal, the lack of scrutiny environmentally, and the reference point to job losses in Ontario, one of the largest wind debacles on the planet. The idea that this fickle wind con job can “fix” climate, “fix” joblessness, “fix” CO2 if that is any measure, and “fix” energy gloom and doom from Fossil Fuels, is nonsense and the debunking is embedded in this wonderful letter to the Governor and Chairman Randazzo.

    Now we need to hope and pray that common sense prevails, and that this project never sees the light of day, never to become the “gamble” that it most certainly is.

    Any one watching the intense migration paths across Lake Erie knows that towers offshore will be an attraction for bats. That is well known. There is no known effective “mitigation” for turbine blades inside this natural wonder of flight and feast. Bats consume about 1000 insects per hour each, and the towers as noted by many many researchers and observers, appear as lunch or dinner, and the poles also appear as resting, nesting opportunities.

    Quotes from an article assessing bat behaviour at Mountaineer:

    “Battered by Harsh Winds
    Must Bats Pay the Price for Wind Energy?

    Through the psychedelic lens of a thermal-imaging camera, the 115-foot (35-meter) blades of giant wind turbines are blends of reds, yellows, blues and purples.
    Then a bat arrives as a surreal triangle with an orange core that shifts through yellows, reds and shades of blue out to its wing tips. The images show the colorful little bat meeting the spinning blade and spiraling down and out of the picture. If the camera could have tracked the bat, it would have seen orange warmth fade to cold blue.
    The $60,000 thermal imaging cameras set up at the Mountaineer Wind Energy Center in West Virginia showed bats approaching the electricity-producing turbines almost like curious kittens enchanted by a tumbling ball of yarn. When the blades were spinning at their standard 17 revolutions per minute (rpm), the results could be and often were fatal. Yet bats sometimes chased harmlessly after the tips of slow – moving blades as though investigating the inexplicable devices that proved neither prey nor bat. Some bats actually landed on stationary blades, suggesting curiosity about potential roosts or sources of insects.
    The study documented alarming kill rates at both facilities. We calculated that between 1,364 and 1,980 bats were killed at Mountaineer and 400 to 660 died at Meyersdale during just this six-week period. These estimates support the observation that wind farms built on forested ridges, as these were, pose especially high risks for bats.

    Our work pointed us toward a promising and apparently low-cost possibility for sharply reducing bat kills at turbines. At both locations, the majority of bat kills occurred on nights of low wind, when electricity production was insubstantial but blades were kept spinning at or near full speed. Of the 64 turbines studied, only one produced no bat fatalities – it was also the only turbine that was out of service, with its blades “feathered” (turned parallel to the wind and left to rotate slowly, so they posed little or no threat to bats) throughout the study.
    The Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative scientists propose that most bat kills can be avoided by simply not attempting to power up blade rotation until wind speeds reach profitable levels. Based on these findings, our scientific team recommends experiments that would compare fatalities when turbine blades are feathered versus when they are set to spin at near-normal speeds during low-wind periods. The goal is to measure precisely how much mortality can be prevented and at what impact on power production.
    Unfortunately, the cooperative has not yet found a single wind farm (OUR NOTE the use of this term is obviously not our choice) operator willing to permit such experiments, despite earlier promises of participation.

    REPEAT ON THAT LAST ONE: “The cooperative has not yet found a single wind farm operator willing to permit such experiments, despite earlier promises of participation.”

    Let’s hope that the feathering requirement for LEEDCo/Icebreaker remains steady as she goes. Thanks again, Michael.


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