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Lake Erie Wind Farm Planners Make Final Pitch For Federal Funding

LEEDCo is proposing nine turbines in its pilot project on Lake Erie.
LEEDCo is proposing nine turbines in its pilot project on Lake Erie.

On Tuesday, LEEDCo – the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation – will make a high-stakes presentation in Washington, D.C., to the U.S. Department of Energy. It’s the last step in a competition for major funding to turn the group’s long-time dream of a Lake Erie wind farm into a reality.

Six projects are in the running.

"It’s very good odds, but let me tell you: this is a very challenging competition," said Lorry Wagner, LEEDCo’s president. "We’re the only nonprofit. When you compete against a major utility like Dominion, you know, you’re definitely up against it."

The Department of Energy gave seven groups seed funding in 2012, to design small projects meant to pioneer the offshore wind energy industry in the U.S., which currently has no offshore wind farms. One group has dropped out. Of the remaining six, three will be awarded another $47 million each to build their projects.

"Some of the technologies that some of these projects are looking to deploy are currently not deployed anywhere in the world," said Jose Zayas, head of the Department of Energy’s Wind and Water Power Technologies Program. "There’s a strong innovation component of this demonstration program."

LEEDCo’s Lorry Wagner is confident. He talks about when the group will build its project, not if it will. The wind farm would include nine turbines, seven miles off Cleveland’s coast.

The winning developers will be notified in mid-May.

CORRECTION: LEEDCo's project would include six wind turbines, not nine. The group originally proposed between five and nine turbines, and has since settled on six.