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Developer Says Lake Erie Wind Farm Approval Contains 'Economically Unrealistic' Caveat

The proposed Icebreaker wind farm project has received approval from the Ohio Power Siting Board but with a major caveat about when the turbines can operate.
The proposed Icebreaker wind farm project has received approval from the Ohio Power Siting Board but with a major caveat about when the turbines can operate.

The proposed Icebreaker wind farm project in Lake Erie has received approval from the Ohio Power Siting Board -- but with a potentially fatal caveat about when the turbines can operate.

Birders opposed the wind farm because the six turbines could be deadly for birds and bats. But the developer, Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation, says it agreed to install radar equipment that can detect collisions.

Still, the approval limits operation to daylight hours from March till November to ensure the animals’ safety. LEEDCo President Dave Karpinski says the provision makes the project economically unrealistic.

“Imagine you’re going to the bank to get a mortgage and you say, ‘here’s my salary. Oh by the way – I may or may not get a third of that. I don’t really know what the rules are going to be.’ It’s really challenging. So that’s the situation that we’re in," he said.

“What they’ve done to this project flies in the face of a huge burgeoning industry in offshore wind in the U.S. that’s exploding on the east coast. And these states are going to reap the benefits of clean energy for the region [and] jobs. And the state of Ohio is saying, somehow, ‘We think these six turbines are such a threat that we are willing to turn away from this great opportunity.’”

Karpinski says that LEEDCo will be discussing what to do next in the coming weeks. The power siting board said it could decide in the future to eliminate the overnight requirement after further study of the detection systems.

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