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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Wind Project Proceeds to Be Split Between Cuyahoga, Other Counties

Posted By on Tue, May 24, 2011 at 9:25 AM

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A five-turbine wind-energy project scheduled to start construction next year will be located five to seven miles off the coast of Cleveland, well within Cuyahoga County waters. Once the turbines start making sparks, the electricity will be routed through Bratenahl — also in Cuyahoga.

It appears the only part of the project not tethered to Cuyahoga County is the profit likely to be made from it.

According to a revenue-sharing agreement suggested by the company spearheading the project, 60 percent of the proceeds are slated for Ashtabula, Lake, and Lorain County coffers. The Cleveland Cuyahoga Port Authority will receive only 40 percent.

The money involved consists only of annual submerged-land-lease payments. The revenue sharing plan garners the Cleveland port $11,000 a year.

Scene asked port authority boss Will Friedman how the pact, made with the Lake Erie Energy and Development Corporation (LeedCo), came about.

“It came about because LeedCo asked us to agree to it,” he says. Had the port not agreed, Friedman adds, all the money would have stayed here.

Why the sweetheart deal? All the equipment, jobs, and construction needed to install the turbines will benefit the Cleveland port, he says. When wind farms are built off the shores of Ashtabula, the port expects another payday.

LeedCo President Lorry Wagner says the arrangement will help ensure that wind farms developed anywhere in the four-county waters will contribute to the entire region’s development.

“It’s possible a wind farm could straddle two counties, plug into a substation in another, and use the port of another,” says Wagner, describing what would seem to be the oddest of projects. This way, it will be smooth sailing for any developer wanting to team with LeedCo.

“Developers have one motivation, and that’s to make money,” Wagner says. On the other hand, LeedCo is committed to fostering the regional economy through Lake Erie wind farms by focusing on local businesses and manufacturers, he says. And of course, to make money. — Maude Campbell

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