Cleveland Council President Wants Wind Turbine Restrictions Removed

a wind turbine viewed from below
Restrictions from the Ohio Power Siting Board would require turbines to be turned off at night for two-thirds of the year. [travellight / Shutterstock]
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Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley is asking Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Power Siting Board to reconsider restrictions on a proposed wind turbine project in Lake Erie.

The restrictions, which include the requirement for shutting down the turbines every night for two-thirds of the year to protect migratory birds, will prevent the Icebreaker wind turbine project from proceeding, Kelley said in letters to the board and DeWine.

The board’s restrictions unnecessary and are actively trying to halt development of renewable energy, Kelley said.

Icebreaker developer Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) worked with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the project’s development, he said, and the environmental agencies determined the project was not in a main migratory path and would present minimal risk of harm to birds and bats.

“That was pretty much agreed upon, so that argument was pretty much talked through and there’s nothing there,” Kelley said. “Everything seemed to be going okay until this decision to limit hours of operation came in, without anyone knowing about it until it was issued.”

The decision to instate new restrictions hurts economic development in Cleveland, he said, and “basically put the breaks on 500 new jobs,” an estimated $250 million in economic development and $5 million in revenue for the city.

“Most people aren’t aware of the impact of this decision,” Kelley said told ideatstream Thursday. “The jobs that this means to Cleveland, the economic impact, the fact that this could spawn a whole new renewable energy industry in Cleveland, was just kind of pilled because of what I believe to be special interests interfering with this decision.”

The ruling should be revisited, Kelley said, especially as state legislators are being investigated for an alleged racketeering scheme tied to a nuclear bailout bill.

“This action was taken basically to stop an emerging renewable technology, and the reason I think that is, who has an interest in this not succeeding, and why?” Kelley said. “This is no time to be making decisions that are not fully transparent, not fully justified. This decision is not supported by the record, plain and simple.”

City council is expected to vote on a resolution in connection with the Icebreaker decision Aug. 26. A bipartisan coalition in the Ohio General Assembly requested a rehearing on the decision, and the Ohio Power Siting Board is expected to review an application from the project developers to reconsider the restrictions.

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