U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today secured $4 million in critical federal funds to advance offshore wind development in Lake Erie. The Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) has been awarded key resources from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to establish an offshore wind demonstration project on Lake Erie, the first project of its kind in the United States.
"These funds mean that we are one step closer to achieving our goal of making Lake Erie home to the first freshwater, offshore wind development in North America. By awarding this grant to LEEDCo, the U.S. Department of Energy is recognizing and rewarding this organization's extraordinary leadership in bringing offshore wind to Lake Erie. This award reaffirms Ohio's place as leader in renewable energy manufacturing and use," Brown said. "Offshore wind has the potential to bring thousands of new jobs to Ohio and the United States--and Lake Erie, with its shallow depth and excellent wind resources, is an ideal site to test offshore wind development. From the world's first electric windmill designed by Charles Brush in Cleveland to what will be North America's first freshwater wind development, the legacy of innovation is alive and well in Northern Ohio."
"The DOE funding for "Icebreaker' is a testament and vote of confidence for LEEDCo's world-class team members and partners," said LEEDCo President Dr. Lorry Wagner. "After a highly-competitive evaluation process, I am excited and proud to say that "Icebreaker' was selected for its innovation and expertise in wind energy development, paving the way for future financial support from the Department of Energy and private investors."
"The United States has tremendous untapped clean energy resources, and it is important for us to develop technologies that will allow us to utilize those resources in ways that are economically viable," said U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. "Today's announcement of awards to the first offshore wind projects in the U.S. paves the way to a cleaner, more sustainable and more diverse domestic energy portfolio that develops every source of American energy."
The DOE has selected seven projects that will accelerate the commercialization of innovative offshore wind technologies in the United States. Each project will receive up to $4 million from the Energy Department to complete the engineering, site evaluation, and planning phase of their project. Upon completion of this phase, the DOE will select up to three of these projects to advance the follow-on design, fabrication, and deployment phases to achieve commercial operation by 2017. These projects will be eligible for up to $47 million over four years, subject to Congressional appropriations.
LEEDCo plans to install nine 3-megawatt direct-drive wind turbines on "ice breaker" monopile foundations designed to reduce ice loading. The project will be installed on Lake Erie, seven miles off the coast of Cleveland.
Brown has been a longtime advocate of offshore wind energy. Brown led a letter in May 2012 signed by several members of the Ohio Congressional delegation, supporting LEEDCo's application for the grant program. In July 2011, Brown attended an Offshore Wind Industry Roundtable, hosted by NorTech in Cleveland, and fought for funding to support offshore wind in Lake Erie that was announced in February 2011. He also introduced legislation to provide critical financial incentives for the investment and production of offshore wind energy. Cosponsored by a group of bipartisan senators, the Incentivizing Offshore Wind Power Act provides the offshore wind industry with enhanced stability through an investment tax credit for the first 3,000 megawatts installed. These provisions are vital because of the long lead times required to permit and construct wind turbines offshore, compared to onshore wind energy.
In 2010, Brown convened a high-level meeting with LEEDCo, its partners, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, DOE, and the Council on Environmental Quality on permitting challenges and questions. He urged the Obama administration to strongly consider establishing the country's first demonstration wind project in Ohio. That same year, Brown introduced the Program for Offshore Wind Energy Research and Development (POWERED) Act of 2010 which would bolster offshore wind projects, expand incentives for offshore wind development, and require the DOE to develop a comprehensive roadmap for the deployment of offshore wind. Brown's POWERED Act was endorsed by The University Clean Energy Alliance of Ohio, Case Western Reserve University, The University of Toledo, Bowling Green State University, The Ohio State University, The Great Lakes Wind Network, and by wind developers like NRG Bluewater Wind.
In the 111th Congress, Brown was also an original cosponsor of S. 3062, legislation that would have provided the offshore wind industry with enhanced stability by extending production and investment tax credits for offshore wind until 2020. These provisions are vital because of the long lead times required to permit and construct wind turbines offshore, compared to onshore wind energy.