OPSB approves construction of Lake Erie wind power project

COLUMBUS, OHIO (May 21, 2020) – The Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) today issued a conditioned certificate providing Icebreaker Windpower Inc. (Icebreaker Wind) an opportunity to move forward with the construction of six wind turbine in Lake Erie. If constructed, this demonstration project will be the first freshwater offshore wind farm in North America.

If constructed, the Icebreaker Wind project will be located 8 to 10 miles off the shore of Cleveland. Each of the project’s six turbines will have a nameplate generating capacity rating of 3.45 megawatts (MW), with a combined capacity of up to 20.7 MW. The project will include a 12-mile long submerged cable to transmit the electricity generated by the wind turbines to Cleveland Public Power’s onshore Lake Road Substation.

“After a thorough review of the record, the OPSB today authorized a certificate that provides an opportunity for the project to move forward in accordance with specified conditions that are responsive to our statutory responsibilities and the public interest,” stated OPSB Chairman Sam Randazzo. “The conditions are responsive to the issues raised and evidence presented in this contested proceeding. As the Icebreaker project represents the first of its kind in North America, the order approved by the Board today includes a public and transparent data collection and submission process to better inform the Board stakeholders and the public on questions and risks related to the construction and operation of the turbines.” 

Under the terms of the certificate, Icebreaker Wind must comply with 33 conditions prior, during and after construction of the project, as well as during facility operation. Among these conditions, Icebreaker Wind must conduct radar studies and, based on these studies, provide the OPSB with a bird and bat impact mitigation plan, including a collision monitoring plan. Until additional information is provided to the Board and the Board finds otherwise, Icebreaker Wind must completely feather turbines (stopping them from rotating) during nighttime hours from March 1 through November 1 as an initial bird and bat risk mitigation measure. This condition reduces operations during the periods when there is a heightened risk to bird and bat populations. Icebreaker can seek, through a public and transparent process, to modify this feathering condition once it has collected and submitted actual monitoring information to the OPSB.

Icebreaker Wind filed its application for the facility with the OPSB in February 2017. The OPSB conducted local public hearings in Cleveland in November 2017 and July 2018 to allow the public to express their views about Icebreaker Wind’s proposal. In addition, the Board received hundreds of written comments from local officials and residents across Ohio regarding the project. The certification process was halted and resumed at Icebreaker Wind’s request.

During evidentiary hearings in September and October 2018 and the resumed hearings in August 2019, parties to the case presented testimony and evidence and cross-examined other parties’ witnesses. In today’s decision, the OPSB approved and modified an agreement signed by several of these parties, including Icebreaker Wind, the Business Network for Offshore Wind, the Sierra Club, the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters, the Ohio Environmental Council, and the staff of the OPSB. Parties to the case have 30 days to ask the OPSB to reconsider its decision.

Additional information about the Icebreaker Wind project, including a copy of today’s opinion, order, and certificate in case number 16-1871-EL-BGN, and a map of the facility, is available at www.OPSB.ohio.gov.

A recorded webcast of today’s OPSB meeting is available on the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/PUCOhio.

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The Ohio Power Siting Board reviews applications for the construction of major utility facilities in Ohio. Together with Ohio’s elected officials, citizen stakeholders, and the energy industry, the Board strives to build a strong and competitive foundation for Ohio’s future.

Contact: Matt Butler, (614) 644-7670