Cuyahoga County Taps German Firm for Lake Erie Wind Turbine Study

CLEVELAND (AP) - Cuyahoga County Commissioners tapped a German company to conduct a $1 million study to determine if winds blowing across Lake Erie can support wind turbines and if the project could overcome financial, environmental and engineering hurdles.

The yearlong feasibility study led by Juwi International will explore building up to 10 wind turbines about three miles off the coast of Cleveland and a wind-energy research center nearby, to be run by Case Western Reserve University.

The university will pay $200,000 for the study, with the county, the Cleveland Foundation and the Fund for Our Economic Future shouldering the rest.

The commissioners' energy-development task force has pushed for the wind project, and Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason, who chaired the task force, said he wants the region to be on the cutting edge of freshwater wind energy technology.

The study approved Thursday allows Juwi International, based in Mainz, Germany, to explore regulatory and engineering obstacles that the project might face - including the impact on bird flyways and concerns that winter ice on the lake might affect turbines. The team will also look at potential funding sources for the project, which could cost $60 million dollars and produce 20 megawatts of electricity.

The approval came on the same day that the nonprofit group Environment Ohio issued a report saying that using wind to supply 20 percent of Ohio's electricity by 2020 would create 3,100 permanent full-time jobs and reduce carbon emissions as much as taking 2 million cars off the road.