A Free-Market Energy Blog

ICEBREAKER Wind Dead: Great Lakes Alive

By Sherri Lange -- December 19, 2023

“The levels of opposition to Leedco (now Icebreaker) have stood firm over 14 years. They are not likely to disappear.”

The Icebreaker Wind Project–six turbines offshore Cleveland in the Great Lakes–has been “temporarily” suspended, halted, or otherwise “iced.” This is very good news for taxpayers, ratepayers, and the environment, mainstream media reporting aside. The Great Lakes will not be “the Saudi Arabia of wind.” Less is always best with government-dependent industrial wind turbines.

Take aways:

  • You can pepper the Great Lakes or the entire planet with wind turbines, and there will be zero impact on the climate out decades, if at all
  • $50 million promised with completion of target objectives; not met, $37 million being returned to DOE
  • Millions are opposed, not merely electrical unions, Audubon, Sierra, and the city of Cleveland
  • Independent environmental studies are still lacking after 14 years. A failure of LEEDCo (now ICEBREAKER) in 2014; a resurrection of “pathos” and STILL incomplete assessments; yes, for recent years, it looked like a lesson in pathos (permit denied by then Chair Todd Snitchler)
  • HUBRIS? The pride of false messages and unsubstantiated environmental ideas, hinged on corruption of climate fear mongering; the arrogance of never providing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

Climate News says the project now is engulfed in an “indefinite suspension of what was once set to be the first offshore wind farm built in the Great Lakes.” Little surprise: this project attracted lawsuits and public dissent (even internationally) as facts contradicted rosy predictions of the Lakes becoming the “Saudi Arabia” of wind development.

Victors All

The fight for the preservation of the Great Lakes is time-honored. Albright and Isselhard and Marks, leaders in the fight against the GLOW (NYS: Great Lakes Offshore Wind) proposal, defeated for reasons of cost and environmental unknowns; Galloo Island, saved by an active eagle nest; Lighthouse Wind (onshore but nearly in the Lakes), expertly outmaneuvered by John Riggi and Save Our Shores’ Pam Atwater; and not to forget Ontario’s Offshore Moratorium, 2011, protecting on Canada’s side, four of the five Great Lakes.  

Project developers/apologists must deal with their inability to test migratory impacts, including insect life; facile and manufactured studies on endangered species impacts; tourism impact studies. Also missing:

  • FAA rubber stamps; Great Lakes Wind Truth sent an 88-page objection, never responded to (this is not published anywhere at this time, but we have a copy; it was prepared and sent just hours before a deadline)
  • Lies re birds and bats: developer attested repeatedly that bats and birds do not fly over the Lake
  • Laundry list never completed and here: (Former Chair of OPSB, Todd Snitchler)
  • Saudi Arabia…. thousands of turbines promised; this was no single one off demonstration project!
  • DESIGN morphed to mono bucket, but that was a crushing disaster in North Sea; never heard about a newer design
  • Lies to trades, re job promises (Block Island had about 300 temporary construction jobs and six permanent jobs) The Block Island Wind Farm has experienced multiple issues, causing it to fail to perform on some occasions. Problems include turbine stress fatigue on four of the five turbines and erosion exposing the underwater cables that took the power to the mainland. The combination of the issues resulted in extensive shutdowns in the summer of 2021 for repairs and safety inspections. The turbines were offline for months.” Our note: add another 100 million or so for the technical difficulties involving sea cables that floated to the surface.
  • Lies re climate remediation: it’s always about saving the planet.

Supporters of Icebreaker have lingering hopes that the project may morph or another developer suddenly appear. But the media fails to mention thundering opposition from “conflict free” Lake Erie Foundation Cleveland, Save Our Beautiful Lake, Great Lakes Wind Truth bi national organization, No Lake Erie Wind Farm…Add in: Letters of opposition from Spain, UK, Slovenia, France, Canada, and the august Dr Scott Petrie of Delta Waterfowl, or Keith Stelling, or HMANA (Hawk Migration Association of North America).  To mention only a few. Hundreds of groups from North America, representing millions.

These levels of opposition have stood firm over 14 years of close observation of the proposal. They are not likely to disappear.

The media has attempted to link this opposition to, in one case, “dark money,” or to persons conflicted by fossil-fuel interests. From our point of view, linking Sam Randazzo, then Chair of OPSB (Ohio Power Siting Board), with his current woes, to decisions made on Icebreaker is a political play, and grossly incorrect: it is my view, and that of many, that Randazzo in this instance, acted fairly, and rationally, requiring turn offs of said proposed turbines to avoid catastrophic migratory impacts. Let’s separate the issues, for once and for all. This requirement is now generally seen as fairly routine.

It’s been quite the flower bed of hopes, and a lot of optimism, falsely placed; now Icebreaker faces the somewhat predictable lack of financial and environmental viability, no matter which way you slice it.

It hasn’t been a sudden demise, but one could call it a slippery slope of failure. To many watchers, it was inevitable. One very visible delay was a joint lawsuit from American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO) claiming complete dereliction of duty regarding environmental reviews.

Cleveland dot com reports:

Two bird conservation groups sued the Energy Department and Army Corps of Engineers in an attempt to stop the development of a Lake Erie wind turbine farm about eight miles off the coast of Cleveland named “Icebreaker.”

The American Bird Conservancy of Washington, D.C. and the Black Swamp Bird Observatory in Ohio said in a lawsuit that the evaluations of the project by both agencies flies in the face of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Water Act.

Our Note: This suit in our view, with the suit of Bratenahl residents, sufficiently delayed any progress the Icebreaker proposal could make, and promoted the proponents’ continued floundering (searching for purchasers of the “electricity,”  leadership, as well as international input), and financial ennui.

It really is hard to imagine: a demonstration project with these implications and NO independent environmental impact study. Imagine, Lorry Wagner pointing out that Michael Parr of ABC (American Bird Conservancy) had indicated repeatedly, that there were NO wind turbine bird studies, analyses of any worth, anywhere! Imagine the shock for Mr. Wagner.

Shock and Disappointment?

Some are obviously disappointed.

“It’s disappointing but not surprising to learn that Icebreaker has been suspended, said Greg Nemet, a University of Wisconsin public affairs professor who tracks renewable energy projects. The first of anything, which Icebreaker would have been, is more difficult to achieve, he said, plus current economic conditions have become a drag, even causing a couple of proposed wind farms along the Atlantic Coast to be cancelled.”

Repeats LEEDCo Chairman Ronn Richard:

“I am disappointed by this pause on Icebreaker, but I believe that there will be a significant number of offshore wind turbines in the Great Lakes in my lifetime. Climate change will necessitate it.”

Others sigh with a nod, because they know intrinsically, there can be no turbines in the Great Lakes. They will continue to fight any and all industrialization. Six turbines or 1,000, the “weather” will continue to do what it does. The objectors, a large furl of legitimate and non conflicted persons, agencies, further reflect on the obvious chill this LEEDCo, Icebreaker “retreat” will have on “offshore dreams” along the Atlantic Coast.

A brilliant strategist for U.S. East Coast offshore wind objections offered us this statement:

It’s unimaginable to put these in drinking water for 20 million. When you examine it: nothing good can be said about industrial wind. It’s a collection of bad. And hard to imagine how the clever and manipulative the manoeuvres to push for industrial wind really are. It’s obviously a threat to the environment and living things; it’s also a threat to security. We need to remember the fragility of the grid, the non performance of wind (and solar), and that any application/build out of these, is furthermore a threat to national security.

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