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The Sound of Ideas

Lake Erie Wind Power

Posted Thursday, July 8, 2010

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Lake Erie Wind Power Two summers from now, visitors to the Cleveland lakefront should see a horizon dotted with wind turbines. OK, maybe not dotted, but they should be able to spot five of them. If it happens, Lake Erie's will be the first freshwater wind farm in the U.S. Sure, people have been talking about it for years, but the talk is turning to action--from both the public and private sectors. This morning at 9:00 the economics, the engineering and the potential impact of the Lake Erie wind farm and the promise renewable energy holds for northeast Ohio.

Photo Gallery

Rendering of how turbines might appear from Voinovich Park. Rendering of how turbines might appear from Wendy Park. Rendering of how turbines might look from Edgewater Park.


Economy, Regional Economy/Business - News, Environment, Other, Energy, Technology


Lorry Wagner, PhD, president Lake Erie Energy Development Corp.
Rebecca Bagley, president & CEO, NorTech
George Sterzinger, executive director, Renewable Energy Policy Project

Additional Information

USDOE information on wind power

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Steve 9:19 AM 7/8/10

I’m in central Ohio and not familiar with the location of the salt mines under Lake Erie. It don’t know how deep or how large the bases for these huge columns would need to be and I am wondering if there might be a danger of collapse of the lakebed...???

Tom 9:36 AM 7/8/10

Exactly where will the
first five be built? 
If successful, will the
rest of the farm be built
at the same location?

Anna 9:46 AM 7/8/10

It is very exciting to hear that Cleveland is working on an alternative energy project on this scale. 

Cleveland has such a strong manufacturing base.  Are you aware of any local manufacturers who would be involved in making the components for the wind turbines?

North Collinwood (Cleveland)

Kent Starrett 9:51 AM 7/8/10

Bird and bat fatalities increase when wind turbines are constructed.  Bats especially.  Have these issues been considered?  In Canada wind turbines have been turned off/or speed changed during certain conditions to reduce fatalities especially during migration.  Has this been considered or have migration patterns been studied to reduce the impact?

Bob Weinberg 10:23 AM 7/8/10

Thanks for your program this morning. I wanted to add some things to Dr Wagner’s excellent comments.

Firstly, the roots of utility scale wind on Lake Erie actually extend farther back to the early years of 2000, with a group of individuals in Cleveland.  This group was known as SEED, and eventually became the statewide group Green Energy Ohio.  Dr Fletcher Miller of NASA, AAron Godwin of The Renaissance Group and many others researched this issue as volunteers.  I myself became part of this in late 2004 after I retired from engineering and manufacturing here.  Together, this group designed, obtained all approvals, did nearly all the technical and manual work which resulted in the scientific wind data study forming the base eventually taken over by Cuyahoga County’s energy task force and LEEDCO which all came much later.  The latter group then hired a German consulting group that basically additionally validated the data and analysis done by Miller, et al. as volunteers.

It’s important to note, that under AAron Godwin’s leadership of the Crib wind monitoring project, the entire program was eventually accomplished using only $90,000.  Quotations and estimates to do this project ranged to $1,500,000 in 2004.  Dedicated volunteers proud of this region and funding largely through the Cleveland Foundation and a few others made it all happen.

However, it saddens me to also note that much of the present funds being spent thus far on the wind development efforts are going outside of our Region, and for that matter Ohio and the US.  We have talents willing, able and qualified here too – just as we do for what hopefully are manufacturing, construction and operational maintenance related to wind turbine systems.  This is the case whether the turbines are water or land based applications.

Finally, I’m involved with over 4 other utility sized wind projects presently.  Each has been partly funded through Federal ARRA grants and administrated by the State of Ohio.  I can tell you that the additional time, work and costs being spent due to government regulations and procedures related to grant funds are far far more than a similar project with private money.  This also needs attention somehow if we want to continue making Wind Power useful for Ohioans.

Toni 11:18 AM 7/8/10

I was very excited to hear this program this morning. Quite frankly, I can listen to this all morning. My enthusiasm dwindled as the program progressed with all the regulations and the almost “wait and see” attitude here in Cleveland to Bob’s point. We should of had many of these turbines in place by now.

I hope to see these Turbines in the very near future-2012. The geology lesson was very interesting, there is much to consider that I initially never really thought about.

Great program as always.

Bob Cesare 7:43 PM 7/8/10

I called in from Akron, for this morning’s show on wind farms in the Great Lakes. The acoustical concern is of true concern here, because those windmills may generate vibrations and cadences that can travel many miles further through the lake bed and water with much greater intensity than through air. I would hate to see the wildlife leave the area in fear. Our lake supports both us and the wildlife in many ways. The mention of the salt mines also concerns me with low frequency vibrations coming into the mix, without fracturing the lake’s bed. Lake Erie has it’s own style of freezing up and thawing. I hope the windmills can handle the movements of the ice or else all of us may be tilting at windmills.
We need to proceed with great caution and prepare to be able to undo what we have failed at(i.e. the gulf disaster comes to mind) when it comes to caring for our planet. It’s the only one that us regular Earthlings have… no expensive escape pods to the Moon or Mars for us.

AW 11:45 PM 7/8/10

As an environmentalist, I am interested in wind power, but not this kind of wind power.  There are 3 distinct aspects to keep straight: industrialness, scale, and petroleum use.  This idea of anchoring windmills on the bottom of the lake is no less industrial than drilling for oil. Moreover, a 4th key aspect: neededness.  What we need isn’t more electricity; what we need is a rearrangement of our society’s ways of life overall.  We can arrange our lives to use a fraction of the electricity that we currently use.  Finally, a fifth key aspect: proportion - human proportion.  (scale chosen to fit communities) A small, Dutch-style windmill that can grind all the grain for a community, or provide electricity for all the computers in a community, is an example of a human proportion.  Also, a 6th aspect is very much worth considering (an aspect of industrialness):  who has the know-how to maintain or fix the windmills?  It’s vulnerable, and thus not so sustainable, if very few people know how to operate a technology that the whole region depends on—and if very few people want to work in the working conditions of the jobs of building and fixing enormous machines in cold waters.


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