For Mid-America Boating


The majority of people really don’t know the details about Icebreaker. That was the consensus of leaders from organizations in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan gathered for a summit meeting in Cleveland to review and coordinate continued opposition to the proposed installation of wind turbines in Lake Erie.

“We’re finding out people think it’s a done deal,” said John Lipaj, a board member of the Lake Erie Foundation. “When we tell them it’s not, and educate them about the myriad of risks and real motives behind this project, they’re shocked and want to join the fight.”

An application from the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) to build wind turbines in the lake off Cleveland, dubbed Icebreaker, is currently before the Ohio Power Siting Board. If permitted, these would be the first turbines ever built in fresh water. Opposition to Icebreaker has been quickly building since it has been revealed that the real intention of this so-called “demonstration project” is to trigger construction of more than 1,200 additional industrial-size spinning turbines in the Great Lakes.

“LEEDCo has gone into the community claiming that Icebreaker is environmentally safe and will be an economically favorable energy source for rate payers,” says Michelle Burke, president of the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association, “but there is an abundance of evidence to the contrary. It’s time we call it what it is – a bad deal all around.”

The organizations will be expanding their broad-based education outreach to alert people to the failings of the Icebreaker proposal. Topping their list is the lack of a full Environmental Impact Statement (AIS) in accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act.     They’re calling on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to demand LEEDCo meet this requirement. “Anything less than a full AIS is unacceptable when we’re talking about impacting the source of drinking water for millions of people and much more,” emphasizes Burke.

Aside from a number of serious environmental concerns, the claimed economic benefits of Icebreaker for rate payers cannot be substantiated either. The group points to the diligence and recent ruling by the New Jersey Public Utilities Commission as evidence of this truth.

  • In denying permits for a turbine installation named Nautilus in the waters off the Garden State’s shores, the New Jersey PUCO stated: “The petitioner’s overestimation of net economic benefits and lack of data to validate its estimates, creates a scenario where rate-payers carry a disproportionate amount of the investment risk.” The same argument is being made by opponents of Icebreaker that see rate-payers being socked for much higher rates.

The summit reconfirmed the point that the organizations are not opposed to alternative energy. However, mass turbine towers spinning in the Great Lakes give rise to legitimate concerns for the health and aesthetics of these unique but fragile bodies of water.

When it was all added up they unanimously concluded: There are no economic benefits to rate-payers. There are numerous potential negative environmental impacts. There’s a growing public opposition when the truth is revealed. And, there’s the prospect of a variety of long term legal actions down the road.

Moreover, no one wants to see hundreds of 400-foot spinning turbines ruining the splendor of these waters. The Great Lakes are held in the public trust by each bordering state and Canada. Accordingly, any proposal that will pollute and endanger the lakes should be wholly rejected by the agencies charged with protecting them, including the OPSB.

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