During the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) annual WINDPOWER Conference in Dallas on Monday, Gov. Ted Strickland announced a partnership between General Electric (GE) and the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) to harness the wind power off Lake Erie and develop the first fresh water offshore wind farm in North America.

“Ohio’s greatest potential for creating wind energy is offshore in Lake Erie, and this partnership marks a significant step forward,” said Strickland. “In Ohio, we have all the right assets to make offshore wind energy successful, including an innovative workforce and the manufacturing strengths that would allow us to build all the component parts for wind turbines. This partnership will not only advance offshore wind technologies, it will also advance Ohio’s economy. We are eager to continue the state’s strong collaboration with GE and LEEDCo as we pursue this exciting, first-of-its-kind initiative for Lake Erie.”
GE has committed to providing offshore wind turbines and maintenance services for an initial 20-megawatt (MW) wind farm. Upon its completion, targeted for late 2012, this project would be located off the shores of Lake Erie, near Cleveland. This would be followed by subsequent projects with a long-term goal of 1,000 MW in the Ohio waters ofLake Erie by 2020.
The LEEDCo – GE partnership builds on the momentum of a four-year effort by the Great Lakes Energy Development Task Force and other state partners to establish an offshore wind industry on Lake Erie, leveraging the region’s strong manufacturing base.
Dr. Lorry Wagner, president of LEEDCo, said, “Together, we aim to develop a cost-effective approach for installing and maintaining offshore wind turbines with the highest possible availability. We are confident that as the GE product line develops and our methodologies mature, the combination will promote a self-sustaining and growing market for offshore wind, in Lake Erie and the Great Lakes – providing economic opportunity and emissions-free energy for Northern Ohio.”
In addition to collaborating on the initial 20 MW project, GE and LEEDCo will create a strategic plan to identify opportunities to make offshore wind energy in the Great Lakeseconomically viable, and also work jointly on advocacy and public policy issues to increase support for offshore wind energy, they said.
“Offshore wind has the potential to create thousands of new jobs in Ohio and become a major source of economic growth. Working with LEEDCo we have made significant progress to make offshore wind in Lake Erie a reality,” said Vic Abate, vice president of GE’s Renewable Energy business, and also president of AWEA’s Board of Directors.