U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Gov. Ted Strickland joined Cleveland leaders Monday to outline plans to move ahead with offshore wind energy projects, which included Brown’s unveiling new legislation aimed at advancing the installation of offshore wind turbines in freshwater bodies like Lake Erie.
Strickland, commenting on state efforts to advance wind energy, again called on the General Assembly to eliminate the tangible personal property tax on generation equipment for wind and solar.
“Lake Erie is ready to be home to the first offshore wind turbines in fresh water,” Brown said. “The lake is shallow enough to support offshore wind turbines and is also surrounded on land by Ohio’s rich industrial base. With the right priorities in Washington, Columbus, and Cuyahoga County, we will not only make this project a reality, but we’ll also revitalize Ohio’s manufacturing base and create new jobs. Wind energy will not only lower costs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but will also create new demand for components produced byOhio’s supply chain.”
“Ohio’s greatest potential for creating wind energy is offshore in Lake Erie. Offshore wind, in particular, offers opportunities for our manufacturing sector and for Ohio shipyards. Ohio can build the installation vessels needed in all the Great Lakes; Ohio can build the towers; Ohio can build the turbines and the blades; Ohio can build all the component parts,” Strickland said.
“Sen. Brown’s legislation will strengthen the federal government’s partnership with Great Lakes states as we make sure the wind energy industry grows in Ohio. This legislation will also provide grants to our universities that are already focusing innovative research on solving the unique challenges of offshore wind in fresh water.”
The following highlights efforts at the federal, state and regional levels that are currently underway to develop offshore wind projects:
Brown’s legislation, “The Program for Offshore Wind Energy Research and Development (POWERED) Act of 2010,” is intended to spur research on potential offshore wind projects, expand incentives for offshore wind development, and require the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to develop a comprehensive roadmap for the deployment of offshore wind. Brown is also the original cosponsor of S. 3062, which would extend production and investment tax credits for offshore wind until 2020. “These provisions are vital because of the long lead times required to permit and construct wind turbines offshore, compared to onshore wind energy,” a release explained.
Brown’s POWERED Act has been endorsed by the University Clean Energy Alliance of Ohio, Case Western Reserve University, the University of Toledo, Bowling Green State University,Ohio State University, the Great Lakes Wind Network, and by wind developers like NRG Bluewater Wind.
Besides seeking to eliminate the tangible personal property tax on generation equipment for wind and solar, Strickland also noted in the release that the state has mapped Lake Erie into square mile grids and color coded them to identify the best places for turbines. The map is being regularly updated and is now adding information about the make-up of the lake bed. “Working with Case Western Reserve University, a designated ‘Ohio Center of Excellence’ in advanced energy, the state is working to solve the unique challenges of offshore wind in fresh water – something that has yet to be done anywhere in the world.
“The state is also reviewing existing Ohio laws and regulations to give wind developers the site control they need while still protecting Lake Erie. The state of Ohio continues to work with developers and manufacturers to create responsible state incentive packages to make sure this industry grows in Ohio. An offshore wind team made up of state agencies meets every week to discuss wind development in Ohio.”
Formed in 2006, the Great Lakes Energy Development Task Force, chaired by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason, has investigated the potential for offshore wind in the Ohio waters of Lake Erie. Recently, several of the core members of the task force formed a nonprofit economic development corporation called the Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. (LEEDCo). This development corporation now has the mission to accelerate progress toward putting wind turbines in Lake Erie off the coast of northeast Ohio, with the goal of creating a regional offshore wind industry and stimulating increased economic activity in Ohio.
As a project of NorTech Energy Enterprise, Richard Stuebi is leading the effort to formally launch LEEDCo, including the development of a business plan and governing structure. Monday, LEEDCo announced a “Request for Proposals” (RFP) for a wind farm developer to provide assistance on an initial offshore wind project planned at 20 megawatts offshore downtown Cleveland.
“The task force’s vision five years ago of putting wind turbines in Lake Erie is inching ever closer to reality,” said Mason. “Tapping into this vast potential of off-shore wind will create thousands of new jobs and remake Cleveland as the Green City by the Blue Lake.”
“The work of the Great Lakes Energy Development Task Force has solidly established Ohio in the emerging North American offshore wind sector,” said Stuebi, who is serving as interim president of LEEDCo during its launch phase. “It is LEEDCo’s goal to build off of this work and bring more focused resources to the pursuit of offshore wind in Lake Erie, so that we can convert our currently favorable position into true industry leadership – and more importantly, increased economic activity and jobs in Ohio.”