Monday, May 24, 2010 at 4:10 PM
A plan to harness the power of wind blowing across Lake Erie got a big jump start Monday.
General Electric has signed an agreement to help create the first fresh water, offshore wind farm in the country.
Ideastream®'s Rick Jackson has more.
A palpable excitement was blowing through the wind industry, and local leadership.
What's planned for a spot six miles north of Cleveland are four state-of-the-art wind turbines --- the visible parts of a 75-100 million dollar `demonstration project' .
Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason who heads the local effort to bring wind power to Lake Erie, says these next-generation turbines would not only provide electricity locally, but could launch the region as the nation's premier turbine production center.
"When we get more of these happening, it's going to be just cheaper for the industry to make them here in Northern Ohio, somewhere along the Cleveland area, East or West, and then the supply chain that goes with it is going to create thousands of jobs for Northern Ohioans. Because we have a lot of this manufacturing base already... now it's just a conversion into the wind industry."
Mason spoke from the American Wind Energy Association's annual conference, where the announcement was the day's highlight.
Construction plans call for work to begin next year - building bases anchored 60 feet below the lake floor - to support 300 foot tall turbines, due to be operational by January 2013.
Also in Dallas for the conference was Governor Ted Strickland, who pledged state support helping clear myriad legal and logistical obstacles.
GOVERNOR TED STRICKLAND:
"We must do what is necessary to encourage these new technologies. I think we are at a very critical point where we can choose to go forward in a robust manner, or we can `not' do that, and I think it would be tragic."
Since the manufacturing of turbines here is still a `hope', the initial equipment will come from Europe on special container ships - through the Port of Cleveland.
Both Cleveland Public Power and First Energy have already expressed interest in buying the produced power... Mason said the Lake Erie Development Corporation intends to work with GE to drive production costs down, making future projects easier to finance and to operate.
Electricity produced by the turbines is said to be enough to power as many as 7,000 homes.