Wind farms coming to Lake Erie?
Considering the amount of controversy the Cape Wind offshore farm has caused, this news is likely to cause as much debate. Plans are underway to construct the first offshore wind project on the Great Lakes after a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between GE Energy (GE) and the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEED) was signed.
The deal was announced by Ohio Governor Ted Strickland at the opening session of WindPower 2010, the annual conclave put on by the American Wind Energy Association and thought to be the biggest U.S. energy event.
The plan will see (if plans go ahead) the development of five wind turbines on Lake Erie to generate 20 megawatts of power by 2012. The project will then aim to generate 1,000 megawatts by 2020. GE will build the turbines and provide maintenance.
The first group of wind turbines are to be situated 6 miles north of Cleveland Browns stadium and will stand about 200 feet tall. The wind will turn blades up to 150 feet long, producing enough electricity to power up to 7,000 homes, said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason.
Graphic in conjunction with Fast Company.com
"Obviously, the wind is free, there's no emissions, so it also helps clean up the environment," Mason said in a statement. Initial costs have indicated that the project will cost $80 million to $100 million, with at least 60 percent of that paid for through the sale of the electricity generated. The costs also will be subsidized through government loans and other public sources.
Mighty wind of criticism
As with all wind farm projects in the US, such as the Cape Wind scheme, the proposed Great Lakes wind farm has been applauded by environmentalist groups due to its renewable nature, but has angered local residents.
Many have said the turbines are an eyesore and are overly noisy when operating in strong winds.
In the case of Cape Wind, which is to be situated five miles of the Massachusetts coast and will be capable of producing enough electricity to power 400,000 houses, critics have said the wind farm will damage the tourist industry in the area and around Nantucket, affect property value and cause possible damage to "birds, whales, fishing, aviation, and historic sites."
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