Could wind energy come to Lake Erie? Plans are under way

Company may construct wind farm offshore of Lake Erie

Could wind energy come to Lake Erie? Plans are under way
This wind turbine at the Cuyahoga County Fair Grounds is one of many constructed in Northeast Ohio over the past decade.

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Wind turbines are popping up all over Northeast Ohio, and you could soon see them off the shore of Lake Erie. A company called Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation is planning a project for a wind farm about eight miles off Cleveland’s coast. It would be the first of its kind on a great lake.

Could you soon see wind turbines in the middle of Lake Erie?

However, it’s far from the first wind turbine project in the country. In fact, wind energy is growing in popularity around the region. You’ve probably seen the wind turbine in front of the Great Lakes Science Center in downtown Cleveland, where it’s been for years.

“Our turbine generates 225 kw, which is enough to power 300 refrigerators at once,” said Great Lakes Science Center Vice President of STEM Learning Scott Vollmer.

He says the wind energy is usually more potent because of the power coming off the lakes.

“Putting turbines out in the middle of the lake is a much better idea than putting it out amongst a bunch of skyscrapers because you’re going to have more predictable wind out on the lake, you’re going to have more energy coming from that wind, and you can have tens, hundreds, however many you want, of the turbines, out on the lake,” he said.

For years, we’ve been seeing an increase in wind power across the United States. The US Department of Energy estimates that by 2050, the country will have a capacity of 404 gigawatts of wind energy. Texas leads the country, supplying over 22,000 megawatts all on its own, while Ohio supplies about 617 megawatts.

There is some concern about wind energy, mainly from people concerned about wildlife, particularly birds. The Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation project will have to prove it is taking steps to protect them before it starts construction. Other people raise issues about living nearby wind turbines, citing how they look or sound.

However, proponents of wind energy argue that the benefits outweigh the costs.

The offshore wind farm has gained tentative approval, and could be finished by November 2020, though that timetable is still in its very early stages.

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