“The Project remains as ill-conceived and disastrous for Lake Erie as it was on the date of its conception. The residents continue to fight to protect their interests…. In glaring contrast, Icebreaker is spending millions of dollars… The Board must not abet Icebreaker’s proposed fouling … of Lake Erie.”
– John Stock (attorney), Bratenahl Residents Post Hearing Reply Brief to OPSB Staff and Developers of Icebreaker, November 15, 2019.
For many years I have protested LEEDCo/Icebreaker/Olsen (Icebreaker), the first proposed freshwater offshore wind project in North America. I have covered the different issues of this six-turbine starter project (the organizers have blustered about Lake Erie being the “Saudi Arabia of wind energy with a potential of 1,000 turbines.) As I previously argued:
The reality is is potential harm of an epic scale. It is not about six: it is about the inauguration of a massive industrialization in 21% of the world’s fresh water.
The classic structure of a story is a beginning, middle, and end. Icebreaker has had two beginnings, several tangled middles, and, to date, no closure. Developer Fred Olsen Renewables Inc. of Norway offers a Trojan Horse, comprised of many assertions that stand in need of serious examination.
The exaggerations and misrepresentations of this application to construct are many. These include: no biologically significant harm to wildlife; birds do not fly over the lake; and super-luminous lures of jobs and power supply. Of course, the proposal is layered in the meme that the climate (really weather) can be mitigated by this and other such projects given less reliance on coal or fossil fuels.
Organization after organization, some worldwide, have noted the deficiencies of Icebreaker’s Environmental Impact Assessment (EIS). Local Cleveland groups representing thousands, Lake Erie Foundation’s John Lipaj, and Michelle Burke of the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association, for example, commented on very real dangers to water supplies and potential to stir up the contaminated Cuyahoga River’s dredging spoils.
Marine Boating Industries Executive Director, Nicki Polan, added her concern over the facile attempts by the developer to skirt over some of the most obvious needs for a complete high-level Assessment. Ken Alvey and Norm Schultz (Cleveland) have written and spoken vehemently about the harms, and David Strang, a frequent speaker and Cleveland business leader, is going toe-to-toe with Dave Karpinski (the current leadership of Icebreaker) at the Cleveland Bar Association.
Add the powerful voices of business leaders Tom Sullivan and Fred Hunger.
Another Great Lakes group of objectors, Great Lakes Wind Truth, has for ten years fought any development in the Lakes, and has to date, been successful in killing New York State’s Great Lakes Offshore Wind (GLOW) project to complement the Ontario offshore moratorium.
Icebreaker is a developer with a legendary and somewhat miraculous ability to ignore, override, and deny environmental concerns. The developer repeatedly has said, even to Cleveland based Senator Sandra Williams: “There is no migration across the lake; birds do not fly over the lake.”
Opponents to the Icebreaker proposal have meticulously and repeatedly outlined the fatal flaws of offshore wind in Lake Erie for years.
Given the project’s total dependence on different government subsidies, a pristine Lake Erie is an easy choice. Lake Erie’s fresh water does not need to be exposed to lubricant leaks, turbine malfunctions, and unquestionable harm to flying creatures.
Flaws, omissions, and errors in the application were mentioned back in 2014 by then Chair of the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB ), Todd Snitchler. The list of errors and omissions was formidable, and to many opponents, terminal. (See additional history on our tracking of this first offshore freshwater proposal.)
In a letter dated April 8, 2014, I informed Icebreaker that its Application does not comply with Chapters 4906-01, et seq., of the Ohio Administrative Code (OAC). The letter, enclosed and available in the case docket, details 14 insufficiencies found by the Board’s Staff during its compliance review of the Application. At this time, the Staff has not received sufficient information to begin its formal investigation of the Application.
On September 13, 2014, a notice to withdraw this application was submitted: In the same notice, we noted apprehensively that the proponents were merely re-opening another game plan, under a new Case number, new turbine foundation design, but this time, with a new billionaire partner, Fred Olsen Renewables USA LLC/Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation—Project Icebreaker.
Fred. Olsen Renewables USA LLC/Icebreaker Windpower, Inc. (Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation – Project Icebreaker) will be filing a letter today notifying the Ohio Power Siting Board of its intent to file a new application in the fourth quarter of 2016, which will replace and supersede the application filed in the instant case.
The cooking was moving to another kitchen.
And Today: John Stock Speaks
Final briefs are in. The flaws in the developer’s design and execution have been ably dissected by John Stock, an attorney who has long represented several residents (Bratenahl) with nothing to gain, save the protection of Lake Erie.
Here is a short list of our favorite paragraphs from the Final Brief of Mr. Stock. This follows the nearly incomprehensible “recommendation by OPSB Staff” to approve the application.
“Icebreaker clings to this “the earth is flat” myth to justify its pre-ordained conclusion that the Project presents “low” risks to birds and bats.” Please read the entire brilliant brief here.
The mandate of the Department of Energy (DOE), Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) and Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) is to responsibly “field” the project, determine merits, assign challenges to be met. Those challenges classically are to serve electrical needs of consumers, reduce air pollution, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create local jobs and spur economic development.
Nothing could be clearer; the phantom highly embellished advantages of Icebreaker do not exist and have never existed. The project needs to be finally closed.