Save Lake Erie from "Project Icebreaker" Wind Turbine Development Before it is Too Late

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Urge Governor DeWine to request an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on Project Icebreaker before the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) votes to formalize and finalize the agreement with Icebreaker Windpower Inc. for six wind turbines to be constructed on Lake Erie as part of Project Icebreaker.

Save Our Beautiful Lake is an Ohio 501c3 non-profit entity whose mission is to ensure that our great natural resource (Lake Erie and the Great Lakes) is protected, properly managed, and supported by all residents, so that our communities can benefit from it now and into the future.

Save Our Beautiful Lake is not against clean, renewable, or wind energy. We are, however, against this project. Project Icebreaker will harm our region's environment and economy, and it is our duty to ensure that an Environmental Impact Statement  is completed to prior to approving this project. We must be certain of the economic and environmental impacts that Project Icebreaker will bring.

We urge Governor DeWine to request an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on this project.

What is Project Icebreaker?

Project Icebreaker is coordinated by LEEDCo, an Ohio based non-profit and Icebreaker Windpower, Inc, a for-project entity owned by Fred Olsen Renewables of Oslo, Norway.

According to LEEDCo, the mission of Project Icebreaker is to “Build and install Icebreaker Wind, a 6 turbine, 20.7 megawatt offshore wind demonstration project 8 miles from downtown Cleveland in Lake Erie -- the first freshwater offshore wind project in North America.” 

What isn’t disclosed in such plain-language, however, are the future plans for Icebreaker Wind. LEEDCo and Icebreaker Windpower has stated, publicly, their ultimate plans of using Lake Erie as the home to a 5,000 megawatt offshore wind turbine farm. A wind farm of that size will require 1,400-1,600 turbines on Lake Erie. 

Save Our Beautiful Lake is on a mission to save our beautiful, natural resource: Lake Erie. It is our position that a project of this magnitude must be backed and supported by an unbiased Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).


What is an Environmental Impact Statement?

An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is a document prepared to describe the effects for proposed activities on the environment.

Ohio Revised Code 4906.10 section (A)(3) states that a project will require an Environmental Impact Statement to ensure that a project will represent the minimum adverse environmental impact compared to alternatives.

We believe that due to how integral Lake Erie is to millions of people’s lives, as well as our ecosystem, an Environmental Impact Statement must be issued.

Why does this project require an Environmental Impact Statement?

Project Icebreaker is the first freshwater (non-ocean or sea) offshore wind turbine project in the world. This project will set a precedent for how the Great Lakes and other freshwater sources can be utilized for wind power in the USA and world-wide. If a project of this magnitude and with this level of scrutiny is proposed, it is our right and responsibility to mandate that every necessary measure is taken to ensure the project’s feasibility, the safety for our environment, and the wellbeing of our wildlife and natural resources.

There are Environmental and Economic issues with Project Icebreaker. We believe they can be summarized in the following ways:

Environmental Concerns

  • The effects that Project Icebreaker will have on human environment are uncertain.
  • There is uncertainty to potential impacts on Lake Erie’s already fragile ecosystem
  • Wind Turbines are known to harm birds and wildlife. Millions of birds cross Lake Erie during migration periods each year. Lake Erie was named a “Globally Important Bird Area” by the Audubon Society. Lake Erie is also habitat to endangered and threatened bird species.
  • Wind turbines are known to leak oil, grease, and industrial lubricants. Each of the proposed turbines will carry 404 gallons of industrial lubricants in their gearboxes. Where will the leaked lubricants go? Our Lake.
  • The Block Island Wind Farm, in the ocean off of Rhode Island, has found that “the area where the cable lines extend to the mainland, it’s completely devoid of fish."

Economic Concerns

  • This project is expected to cost about $126MM to construct. It will result in a capacity of 20.7 MWh of power. The Steel Winds onshore project in Buffalo NY cost 75% less to build AND generates more power.
  • Offshore wind turbine maintenance costs are 3-4x higher than onshore.
  • The useful life of a turbine is about 20 years, at which point many need to be decommissioned and removed. California has hundreds of turbines that are abandoned and falling apart. Who will be paying this bill?
  • LEEDCo claims that Project Icebreaker will create “8,000 new good-paying jobs,” but that claim is linked to an Icebreaker document that details their plans to develop 5,000 megawatts of wind power on Lake Erie by 2030.

    This plan would require a wind farm consisting of 1,400-1,500 wind turbines.

  • Project Icebreaker’s own Environmental Assessment (EA) indicates a potential for 496 jobs during the build-out of Project Icebreaker’s six wind turbines.
    • 159 jobs are temporary onsite construction and development personnel. It indicates that many specialized jobs will come from "our of area"
    • 187 jobs are supply chain industries supporting the development
    • The report is vague about where the final 150 jobs will come from.
    • Project Icebreaker is estimated to create nine [9] full-time equivalent jobs
  • Lake Erie tourism, including vacation home rentals and lodging, is a $14 Billion per year industry. A recent North Carolina State University study shows that over half of vacationers would not rent if offshore wind turbines are in sight. 
  • Cleveland Public Power and Cuyahoga County have agreed to buy Icebreaker’s power for a price “not to exceed” $181 per megawatt hour. Power from the grid is currently available at $34 per megawatt hour

Deceitful Public Communication Practices

Project Icebreaker was started by LEEDCo, a non-profit based in Cleveland.
LEEDCo signed an agreement to sell their “assets” to Fred Olsen Renewables, of Oslo Norway. This makes Fred Olsen Renewables the owner of Icebreaker Windpower, Inc.

Icebreaker Windpower, Inc’s most valuable “asset” is a 50-year Submerged Land Lease with the State of Ohio, giving them the rights to the area where the turbines and power cables will be located in Lake Erie.

This provides a foreign-entity with the rights to the land under Lake Erie.

LEEDCo/Fred Olsen Renewables/Icebreaker Windpower, Inc. state that Project Icebreaker is a 6-turbine project. However, they also describe a vision of producing 5,000 megawatts of power using wind turbines on Lake Erie, which would require 1,400-1,500 wind turbines to produce. Project Icebreaker is a pilot project to test the feasibility of this vision. 

The organization is not clearly communicating their plans for the future development of offshore wind power on Lake Erie.

Did you know:

  • Lake Erie provides fresh, clean drinking water to 11 million people (per day!)? 
  • The state of New York and Canadian province of Ontario has placed a moratorium on Lake Erie/Great Lakes offshore wind turbine projects, placing the development of 1,250 wind turbines on Lake Erie on hold. 
  • The Block Island Offshore Wind Facility created 300 temporary construction jobs and less than ten permanent jobs were created.

You can help us ensure that Project Icebreaker is a GOOD DEAL for Lake Erie and Ohioans.

Support our petition requesting Governor Mike DeWine to urge an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to ensure that the Ohio Power Siting Board fully understand the environmental impact that Project Icebreaker will have on Lake Erie—our great natural resource, which provides drinking water to 11 million people, contributes to $14 billion per year in tourism spending, is the habitat of endangered and threatened bird species, and is considered a Globally Important Bird Zone.

An unbiased, scientifically-backed Environmental Impact Statement is the only way to fully understand the scope and impact of this project, and we urge Governor Mike DeWine to formally request one before the Ohio Power Siting Board makes its final decision.