- The Ohio Power Siting Board on Thursday, after nearly four years of consideration, issued a construction certificate to a Norwegian-backed Cleveland company to build a six-turbine, 20.7 MW demonstration wind farm in Lake Erie at an estimated cost of $126 million.
- OPSB’s opinion and order includes a condition that would require the company, Icebreaker Windpower, to feather the wind turbines from dusk to dawn March 1 through November 1 to ensure the safety of migrating birds and bats. Feathering entails a way of manipulating the turbines so they no longer turn in the wind.
- That surprise condition “may well be fatal” to the project, said David Karpinski, president of the Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. (LEEDCo), the non-profit group that partnered with Fred. Olsen Renewables to form Icebreaker Wind Inc. and has been developing the project for a decade.
The safety of migratory birds and bats has been a contentious issue during the years the OPSB has considered Icebreaker Wind Power’s application.
LEEDCo chose the site for the wind farm after the Ohio Department of Natural Resources recommended it as an area through which migratory birds and bats do not fly. Nevertheless, OPSB staff initially demanded overnight shutdowns for 10 months of the year.
OPSB staff agreed last year to drop the overnight feathering provision after the company agreed to install sophisticated radar to detect and track birds and bats weighing as little as 10 grams, equip the turbines with ultra-sensitive collision detection equipment, and shut down when more than 21 birds are killed in 24 hours. But opponents have countered that if such equipment exists it must still be tested for accuracy.