The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

April 28, 2013

Ashtabula County Port Authority to host European wind-energy group

Star Beacon

ASHTABULA — The Ashtabula County Port Authority next week will host a group of potential European wind-energy industry personnel.

In December 2012, the Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. (LEEDCo) received $4 million in federal funding for Project Icebreaker, an offshore wind development effort to build turbines on Lake Erie. As part of the preliminary phases of the wind development, LEEDCo officials are touring ports in northeastern Ohio in search of possible staging, pre-construction or construction locations.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for Ashtabula County to show off some of our great features,” said Ashtabula County Port Authority Executive Director Sean Ratican. “The fact that Ashtabula County has two deep-water international ports makes our community a favorable location for a project such as this. Combine that with the close proximity of our county ports to major metropolises, our abundance of site-ready property near the ports, and the easy access to highway and rails, and Ashtabula County becomes an advantageous location for LEEDCo’s project.”

The ACPA will work in conjunction with the other Ashtabula and Conneaut city port authorities, as well as Growth Partnership, to highlight the key features that Ashtabula County has to offer.

“The tour is part of a workshop LEEDCo has assembled. It is aimed at bringing together European companies with experience in building offshore wind farms with regional contractors and service providers interested participating in LEEDCo’s Icebreaker project,” Ratican said. “When you look at the infrastructure available near the ports, the properties available for development, and local industries that have competitive technology in the wind energy market, Ashtabula County has a lot to offer.”

“Should Ashtabula County be selected for this potential site, that would mean dozens of potential new jobs and a plethora of possible work for local companies,” ACPA Board President Rob Schimmelpfennig said. “This is a great opportunity for our community, and we are happy to show off the features that make Ashtabula County an optimal location for new business.”

“Ashtabula County’s economy continues to diversify," Growth Partnership for Ashtabula County executive director Brian M. Anderson said. “LEEDCo’s Icebreaker project is an example of the county leveraging our existing assets and strengths to be a leader in an emerging industry. While a lot of work remains to be done, LEEDCo has also demonstrated the power of regional cooperation to take on complex projects.”

LEEDCo was one of seven projects to secure federal funding through a U.S. Department of Energy is providing grant. After a year of developing the wind power projects, three of the seven could receive up to $47 million each in federal money over four years.  

Under the preliminary grant, LEEDCo plans to install nine wind turbines on single-pole foundations designed to reduce ice loading. The 3-megawatt turbines will be in Lake Erie, seven miles off the coast of Cleveland.

“Because Lake Erie is relatively shallow compared to (the other four Great Lakes), experts believe that it is an optimal location to test offshore wind energy. However, wind studies have shown that the quality of wind just off Ashtabula County’s shores is better than anywhere else on (Lake Erie). So future development and job creation in Ashtabula is possible should LEEDCo secure the additional funding,” Ratican said.