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The first North American freshwater offshore wind farm will be in Lake Erie

Despite pushback from residents, the Supreme Court of Ohio yesterday approved a permit for the construction of North America’s first freshwater offshore wind farm, which will be sited in Lake Erie, around eight miles north of Cleveland.

Residents of Bratenahl, a village in Ohio’s Cuyahoga County on the southern shore of Lake Erie, sued to stop the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation’s (LEEDCo) Icebreaker Wind, a six-turbine, 20.7-megawatt (MW) offshore wind demonstration project, which will test offshore wind viability in the Great Lakes.

LEEDCo wrote:

Lake Erie is an ideal location for offshore wind, with ample available interconnect capacity, large load centers along the coast, growing energy demand due to existing plant retirements, a strong manufacturing base, and limited other sources of renewable energy.

The Bratenahl residents objected to the project on the basis of it not having enough evidence that it wouldn’t harm birds and bats, and that the project would not serve the public interest as defined by Ohio law. They also don’t want further wind farms to be installed in Lake Erie.

The Supreme Court of Ohio ruled 6-1 in favor of Icebreaker Wind. It stated that the Ohio Power Siting Board provided multiple studies that demonstrated a low impact on birds and bats, and that the wind farm would have “minimal impact” on the public’s enjoyment of Lake Erie.

Justice Jennifer Brunner wrote on page 13:

Rather than requiring Icebreaker to resolve those matters before issuing the certificate, the board determined that the conditions on its grant of the certificate were sufficient to protect birds and bats and to ensure that the facility represented the minimum adverse environmental impact.

Icebreaker Wind will interconnect with the Cleveland Public Power transmission system at the Lake Road 138kV substation. 

LEEDCo asserts that “the Great Lakes hold enough energy potential to power the entire country. The winds of Lake Erie alone could meet over 10% of our electricity needs by 2030.”

Read more: Biden to expand offshore wind power in the Gulf of Mexico

Photo: LEEDCo Simulation

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.