Emily Bacha, Vice President of Public Affairs, May 21, 2020
Columbus, OH — Today, the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) approved a certificate for the Icebreaker Windpower Inc. (Icebreaker Wind) project, but added revised conditions that may make it impossible for the project to move forward.
Throughout the siting process, Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) and its partners have carefully studied and addressed the need to both develop a clean energy source to help combat air pollution and climate change with the need to protect water quality, fisheries and migratory birds over and around Lake Erie. The revised settlement agreement, signed by OPSB staff as well as other stakeholders, took all of these factors into account and recommended conditions that balance the financial realities of the project with the environmental protections needed for responsible development of the project.
Unfortunately, the Board altered some of those conditions—including an overly burdensome requirement related to feathering (essentially stopping the turbines from rotating)—in a way that makes the future of the project uncertain at best.
The following statement can be attributed in full, or in part, to Miranda Leppla, Vice President of Energy for the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC):
“While the Ohio Power Siting Board’s approval of LEEDCo’s Icebreaker Wind project application today may seem like something for clean energy advocates to celebrate, the OEC and Sierra Club are extremely disappointed because the revised condition imposed by the OPSB means the project may not be able to move forward.
“We are deeply concerned by two aspects of this decision. First, the Board’s decision to modify certain requirements related to feathering is extreme and seriously undermines the ability for the project to raise capital to begin turbine construction. Second, the feathering condition was something originally recommended in the Staff Report but ultimately removed, with the consent of OPSB staff, during the process to reach the stipulated settlement. The Board’s imposition of this condition is yet another example of deviation from the standard practice in these kinds of proceedings for renewable energy projects. From a process standpoint, today’s decision sends another chilling message to renewable energy companies wanting to do business in Ohio.
“For many years, the OEC and Sierra Club have supported Icebreaker Wind. Responsibly developing this offshore wind demonstration project will help us not only achieve cleaner air and healthier communities, but it will also put Ohio on the map as a leader in renewable energy technologies as this project would be the first freshwater offshore wind farm in North America. We thank LEEDCo for their diligence in protecting the environment, not only by working to bring clean energy to our state, but also to ensure that any potential adverse impact was minimal.
“We remain ready to support LEEDCo and our partners to make this project a reality. Ohio must move clean energy forward, while maintaining uniformity and consistency in siting criteria across all kinds of energy resources, to combat the impacts of climate change.”