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CLEVELAND, OH – Wind Farm Report Shows Ohio Last in Generated Regional Wind Power Capacity

April 19, 2010
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Note: See page 2 above to find current Megawatt capacity for the Great Lakes Region.

By John Funk, The Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Wind turbines could rise from Lake Erie as early as 2012, a development group says.

The Lake Erie Energy Development Corp., a fledgling non-profit known as LEEDCo, announced Monday that it was seeking developers to build four to eight turbines in the lake at an estimated cost of $100 million.

The turbines would have a combined capacity of only 20 megawatts but are seen as the first step toward putting hundreds of wind turbines in the lake.

A megawatt is equal to 1 million watts. One megawatt of power generated by conventional power plants is sufficient to power about 800 homes.

“In recent months LEEDCo has engaged in deepening conversations with various suppliers including domestic and foreign turbine manufacturers with the objective of bringing related jobs to the region,” Richard Stuebi, interim head of LEEDCo, said at a news conference at the Great Lakes Science Museum.

The goal is 1,000 megawatts by 2020, Stuebi said.

The 18-page formal request sets an April 30 deadline for sealed proposals from interested companies and includes and an April 12 “pre-response” conference.

Stuebi said LEEDCO hopes to choose a developer by the end of May with initial construction to start by the end of 2012. The group is talking with domestic and foreign manufacturers, he said.

In an interview, Stuebi said the first few turbines may be made by foreign manufacturers because few are made in the United States. LEEDCo hopes to get a federal loan for 80 percent of the cost.

“We would prefer a developer who wants equity in the project and takes payment for services as equity instead of cash,” Stuebi said later in a text message.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and Gov. Ted Strickland joined Stuebi and other local officials to announce they are already busy trying to assist the lake project.

Brown has introduced legislation to extend production tax credits for wind turbines to 2020 and increase the amount per kilowatt-hour. The pending law also would direct the U.S. Energy Department and other federal agencies to create a “roadmap” to assist developers with siting issues.

Strickland and his allies in the Ohio General Assembly have pending legislation that would slash state tax rates on wind and solar farms. The proposal could become law as early as May. Strickland said he has instructed the Ohio Department of Development, the Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Power Siting Board to work closely to streamline the process to site turbines in the lake.

Case Western Reserve University President Barbara Snyder and Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason also spoke. CWRU is heavily involved in wind energy research.

As chairman of the county’s wind task force for nearly three years, Mason said the goal of wind turbines in the lake “seemed like a distant reality” when county commissioners began talking about such a project five years ago.

LeedCo is temporarily housed in the Northeast Ohio Technology Coalition, or NorTech. LeedCo’s legal representative is McDonald Hopkins LLC.

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