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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

That Lake Erie Windfarm Probably Isn't Going to Happen

Posted By on Wed, Feb 15, 2012 at 12:00 PM


Visions of Lake Erie churning with wind turbines anytime soon appear to be blowing out of port.

The developer of the planned five-turbine pilot project had hoped to get Governor Kasich’s support for proposals to help finance construction. But that isn’t going to happen. The problem: The developer, Lake Erie Energy Development — that’s LEEDCo. to fans of sporty acronyms — stepped away from the governor’s desk after failing to garner enough assurances that anybody will actually buy LEEDCo’s wind power.

Thus far, the company’s only customer is Cleveland Public Power, which has committed to buying 25 percent of the future energy farm’s output. But according to LEEDCo. boss Lorry Wagner, close to 80 percent usage would need to be guaranteed in order to proceed. He had hoped the state would have required public utilities to buy power from wind farms, even though doing so would cost at least twice as much as juice squeezed the old-fashioned ways.

Instead, it appears the legislature may strip away Ohio’s existing renewable-energy mandate, which calls for 25 percent of a utility’s power to be derived from renewable sources. The news was greeted warmly by late-night talk-show hosts, who may now resume another decade or so of Ohio pollution jokes.

Incredibly, a costly new form of energy that nobody is required to use is not a popular score among investors either. But LEEDCo. isn’t giving up yet.

“We are currently exploring other options with the state and several other municipalities,” spokesman Donny Davis says. But he doesn’t say whether developers anticipate further delays in turbine construction, which has already been pushed from this year to 2014.

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