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Federal report: Lake Erie wind turbine project will have 'no significant impact' to environment

Icebreaker Wind would be the first fresh-water wind energy installation in North America.

The proposed wind-powered, electric generation facility in Lake Erie may be one step closer to becoming reality.

A report issued by the U.S. Department of Energy in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Coast Guard and other federal entities concluded that Icebreaker Wind 'would not constitute a major Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.'

The agencies released the final Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI)

“This is the most significant single approval Icebreaker Wind has received to date,” said Dr. Lorry Wagner, President of the non-profit, Cleveland-based Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) – which is developing Icebreaker Wind with Fred. Olsen Renewables USA.

According to LEEDCo, Icebreaker Wind will create over 500 jobs in Northeast Ohio and is projected to have a $168 million local economic impact over the project’s 25 year life. The group also is touting the environmental benefit of wind power as a clean, abundant and renewable energy source.

MORE | What are the pros and cons of wind turbine facility in Lake Erie?

The six-turbine generation facility in Lake Erie would sit approximately 8 to 10 miles off the shore of Cleveland. The project would also include include an 11.8-mile long submerged electric line to transmit power to Cleveland Public Power's onshore Lake Road substation.

Those who oppose the project believe the 500-foot-high turbines could potentially kill birds and other animals. There is also the concern of possible oil leakage from the turbines. In addition, Icebreaker Wind is also opposed by Murray Energy Corporation, the largest privately owned coal company in the United States.

"We are eager now to earn state approval and move forward. This progressive, clean energy project has already attracted positive international attention for Cleveland. It stands to establish our region as a leader in the exploding offshore wind energy sector, and will yield both environmental and economic benefits for Greater Cleveland,” Dr. Wagner added in the statement.

Several environmental groups including Sierra Club and the Ohio Environmental Council are supporting Icebreaker Wind.