General Electric Co. announced Monday that it plans to harness the power of winds blowing across Lake Erie by developing the world’s first freshwater wind farm several miles offshore from downtown Cleveland.
GE and the nonprofit Lake Erie Energy Development Corp., or LEEDCo, announced a partnership to develop five wind turbines about 6 miles north of Cleveland Browns stadium. The turbines, which would stand about 200 feet tall, would aim to generate about 20 megawatts of power by 2012 and 1,000 megawatts by 2020.
The announcement came weeks after the Obama administration cleared the way for America’s first offshore wind farm in Massachusetts. In late April, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar approved a $2 billion Cape Wind project off the shores of Cape Cod after more than eight years of lawsuits and government reviews.
A proposal to put 700 wind turbines along the shores of Lakes St. Clair and Erie, each about as tall as a 40-story building, is provoking controversy in Canada and the U.S.
The turbines, planted on the lake bottom and arranged in grids jutting more than 3 miles out into the lakes, easily would be seen from the marinas and mansions of the Grosse Pointes, as well as from Rockwood, Gibraltar and Grosse Ile.
Some residents on both sides of the border are worried about how the windmills would affect shoreline property values, fishing, boating and bird migration. The turbines would be on major migratory pathways for birds at several major wildlife refuges, including Point Pelee, Ontario, and the Detroit International Wildlife Refuge.
Seven hundred offshore wind turbines are being proposed for Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair including 165 turbines north of Lakeshore and wind farms off Amherstburg, Colchester, Kingsville and Leamington.
SouthPoint Wind of Leamington had already proposed 15 turbines in three spots off the shores of Kingsville and Leamington. If SouthPoint gets approval for that project, it is proposing a 1,400 megawatt project with 13 wind farms: three in Lake St. Clair and the rest south of Essex County and Chatham-Kent in Lake Erie. Each wind farm could have 55 turbines and could be one to 2.5 kilometres from shore.
“Why should we be the guinea pigs?” Leamington Deputy Mayor Rob Schmidt said Wednesday.
If it could be the first offshore wind farm anywhere in fresh water, there should be more research done, Schmidt said.
There are offshore wind farms proposed on the Great Lakes including Lake Ontario but none approved or constructed in the province.
Neither of the companies that announced the transfer of development rights for a massive wind farm on Lake Erie owns those rights, Ontario authorities told The Associated Press on Thursday.
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources disputed accounts offered the day before by a U.S. company, which said it had acquired and was selling the rights to operate giant wind turbines on the Canadian half of Lake Erie, and a Canadian company that said it was buying those rights.
Utah-based Wasatch Wind Inc. said it was transferring rights to a 4,400-megawatt “offshore wind prospect” to Canadian Hydro Developers Inc. of Calgary, Alberta.
Canadian Hydro, a publicly traded company, affirmed in a separate statement that it was acquiring those rights. The pact received widespread news coverage in Canada.
See also “Canadian Hydro plans offshore wind farm in Lake Erie”
Ontario’s green-energy Klondike is spreading offshore, and in a big way.
Canadian Hydro Developers Inc., the country’s largest independent developer of wind-energy projects, said on Monday it plans to erect enough wind turbines in Lake Erie to power two million homes.
The area Canadian Hydro has targeted starts about five kilometres off the shore of Long Point Provincial Park and stretches roughly 80 kilometres west to a spot that’s 30 kilometres south of Port Stanley.
Fishing tugs in Port Stanley harbour
Shutting down the only deepwater port on the north shore of Lake Erie could result in Port Stanley losing business and mariners losing their lives, warns one skipper who says he can no longer make it a port of call unless it’s dredged.
Ralph Watson of London, skipper of the 41-metre J. R. Rouble, has written a letter with his concerns to consultants considering the future of the silt-clogged harbour.
“It will be truly sad if something isn’t done to ensure Port Stanley remains a viable commercial harbour and a safe haven for mariners,” he wrote consultant Mark Conway.
Conway’s, firm, N. Barry Lyons Consultants, has been retained to develop plans for the port if the Municipality of Central Elgin accepts it from Transport Canada.
Giant conglomerate Samsung is apparently pondering a wind farm comprising 200 turbines on the north shore of Lake Erie but the Ontario government would only confirm Sunday that talks with the Korean-based company are in advanced stages.
The proposed wind farm, part of Samsung’s new push into renewable energy, would stretch about 25 kilometres from Port Maitland toward Nanticoke, an area considered to have excellent wind potential.
The Ontario government said the two parties have been involved in “months of extraordinarily co-operative effort” toward an agreement that would involve billions of new investment, including in manufacturing facilities.