July 8, 2013
Governor John Kasich
Riffe Center, 30th Floor
77 South High Street
Columbus, OH 43215-6117
Dear Governor Kasich,
We are Great Lakes riparians and deeply concerned over activities currently being undertaken by Ohio’s LEEDCo Corporation (and Freshwater Wind I – the developer) with encouragement and financial assistance from Ohio’s Cleveland Foundation. LEEDCo is planning to develop a prototype offshore wind factory, the Icebreaker project, about seven miles offshore from Cleveland, Ohio in Lake Erie – this is disturbing for numerous reasons. Should LEEDCo’s idea become reality there’s no doubt offshore wind turbines could eventually entrench all the Great Lakes and essentially ruin the character of the entire Great Lakes system forever for the sake of unneeded, volatile, low quality, expensive, incurably intermittent electricity. The LEEDCo project is merely a precursor for future aggressive offshore wind developers that will amount to hundreds, maybe thousands of turbines in Lake Erie, transforming this lake into an enormous industrial complex for the rest of everyone’s lives. (LEEDCo’s web site says they want to have a 1000Mw Lake Erie offshore wind farm by 2020)
We are concerned that if any offshore turbines are allowed to be sited in Lake Erie – the same siting demise will soon follow in Lake Ontario and all the other Great Lakes.
The Cleveland Foundation is granting substantial financial help to LEEDCo in the Icebreaker project. We have reviewed the Cleveland Foundation web site extensively and are impressed with how their generous grants have improved the quality of life within the Cleveland, Ohio area yet their financial support of the Icebreaker project seems at odds with their mission statement as follows: “To enhance the lives of all residents of Greater Cleveland, now and for generations to come, by working together with our donors to build community endowment, address needs through grant making, and provide leadership on key community issues.” How can LEEDCo’s controversial Icebreaker offshore wind factory project possibly improve the Cleveland region and Lake Erie or Ohio? Has the Cleveland Foundation considered what happens should the Icebreaker project actually survive Lake Erie’s ice and then numerous additional future offshore wind projects are proposed for Lake Erie within the state of Ohio? How could you stop their proliferation? How does this gross industrialization and wanton vandalism of beautiful Lake Erie (or the Great Lakes) with imposing 500 foot tall behemoth wind turbines – possibly serve the greater good of any area to enhance the lives of Cleveland area residents?
Offshore turbines will collapse because of Lake Erie ice; create avian slaughter; create loss of darkness; cause loss of property values; cause unwanted noise from foghorns and maintenance equipment as well as the offshore turbine rotors whooshing themselves; be struck by lightening (and possibly catch fire that can’t be extinguished); function intermittently less than 30% of the time and out of phase with power demands; disfigure seascape aesthetics; divide communities; spill fluids (coolants, lubricants, etc.) from their nacelles into the lake (check internet photos of aging turbines showing these problems and more); will be costly and difficult to decommission (remove from the lake at end of life – look at California and Hawaii); towers and turbine to turbine electrical cables will disturb sediments & toxins that have lain dormant and safe at the lake bottomlands for decades; will disturb marine life; will create safety and navigation problems for recreational boaters and fishermen; create safety and navigation issues for Great Lakes shipping vessels and commerce; future wind projects owned by a foreign developer who could care less about negative impacts and nuisances the wind factory creates; will create radar/communication and security problems for boats and planes, offshore wind generated electric is the most costly, etc. With the Icebreaker or Great Lakes offshore wind – there’s no community benefits package, no property tax payments, no payments in lieu of taxes, no local control, no guarantee USA made turbines will be used or that USA workers will build and maintain the offshore project, and all of this leading toward energy poverty in the end. LEEDCo and the wind industry has unleashed half-truths, lies and exaggeration to foster the mouth-watering appeal or opportunity of offshore wind. These are only some of the negatives associated with offshore wind. All of this for these imposing hulks that just might last for 15 years – at 60% taxpayer funding – a further insult. Wind energy faddism enriches a greedy few at the expense of many. Has the Cleveland Foundation considered that here in NYS the New York Power Authority two years ago suddenly dropped the Great Lakes Offshore Wind (GLOW) project they nursed for a long time mainly because they couldn’t find anyone to buy the expensive offshore generated electricity?
The LEEDCo Icebreaker project will use Siemens 3 MW direct-drive turbines per their web site – these may be foreign made turbines. The LEEDCo web site says: “…the National Renewable Energy Laboratory indicating there is 46,000 MW of potential in Lake Erie…” Now divide the potential by the turbine output and you have the number of possible turbines that could be installed in Lake Erie in the future – is this somehow acceptable? LEEDCo presently has no buyer for 75% of the project power output and only a Memorandum of Understanding with Cleveland Public Power for the other 25% power – according to the LEEDCo web site.
Apparent justification for the Icebreaker project is charlatans’ false proclamations that such a project will create jobs and a dramatically improved economy for Ohioans. The “jobs” promise is part of every wind scam and serves to suck in public official’s support, an abuse of innocent trust and the abdication of our environmental values. Wind energy always needs a dance partner and making Ohio a prostitute for this exploitation and rape of Lake Erie – is economically and technically reckless. Now consider what has happened to jobs within the wind industry over the past several months. In June 2013, the province of Ontario has slashed green energy subsides by over $3 billion affecting hundreds of job; the production tax credit (which was renewed until Dec. 31, 2013) if it’s not again renewed – will be the death knell for wind in the USA as wind energy can’t survive without heavy taxpayer funding; in March 2013 the American Energy Alliance stated that 37,000 American jobs would be lost without the production tax credit (PTC); Siemens Ltd. has laid off 200 people according to Business Standard (June 29, 2013) and plans to lay off 400 more and says globally, the company intends to cut expenses by $7.8 billion by 2014; according to the web site Energy Tribune, June 17,2013 – House appropriators revealed Monday that they plan to cut Energy Department spending on renewable energy in half next year as part of their plan to cope with automatic sequestration cuts in fiscal 2014. National Wind Watch reports last August – Vestas Wind Systems, the world’s largest wind turbine maker, said Monday a weakening market is forcing it to cut about 20 percent of the 450 jobs at its tower factory in Pueblo, Colorado; in Jan. 2013 National Wind Watch reported Spanish wind turbine manufacturer Gamesa is still planning to lay off 92 workers at its Cambria County (Pa.) plant early this year. Last summer, Gamesa laid off 73 (Pa.) people and in November (2012) announced it would lay off another 92 early this year. Another plant in Bucks County (Pa.) laid of 92 workers last year; an April 12 2013 article on National Wind Watch said “The Ohio General Assembly is considering changes to a 2008 energy law that requires utilities to purchase a certain quantity of energy generated from renewable sources” and “If there is a nationwide move away from the rules, it likely will hit Ohio’s wind-energy manufacturers” and “The Ohio Senate’s Public Utilities Committee is holding hearings about the 2008 law.” British Petroleum announced this year its selling off all its US wind operations. From Bloomberg Business Week News, June 28, 2013 – LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A German wind turbine company(Germany-based Nordex SE) that invested $40 million in a northeast Arkansas factory with plans to employ more than 700 people announced Friday it would end production. Executives with an international alternative energy company, Mainstream Renewable Power, have decided against developing approximately 5,000 acres in Ohio’s Auglaize County and another 7,000 acres in Shelby County into a future wind farm. LEEDCo’s web site for job estimates is grossly overestimated.
Does Ohio know that nearly every NYS county bordering Lakes Ontario and Erie passed resolutions against offshore wind. Does Ontario, Canada’s moratorium (since Feb. 2011) on offshore wind energy in the Great Lakes for health and environmental reasons – mean anything to Ohio government? Has the Cleveland Foundation accepted the fact the Ohio Third Frontier Commission voted NOT to provide up to $5 million to LEEDCo – voting down the proposal 6-2 last year? The Commission’s action does not speak well of the Icebreaker project.
LEEDCo’s trying to establish Ohio as a cornerstone of the U.S. offshore wind industry is based on hope and hype. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), offshore wind energy is 2.6 times more expensive than onshore wind and 3.4 times more expensive than a natural gas combined cycle plant. Can Ohio businesses afford this? With the low cost and availability of natural gas in the U.S. northeast, why is Ohio chasing an expensive wind project dream? Horizontal fracking and the abundance of inexpensive natural gas is a certain killer for expensive hit & miss wind energy. What company or business could possibly want to undertake the overwhelming risk (in Ohio) to commence the design, engineering, manufacture and marketing of offshore wind turbines in today’s business atmosphere?
Public Trust Doctrine
Ohio has a Public Trust Doctrine and it is our belief that the Icebreaker project or any Great Lakes offshore wind project is contrary to the Public Trust Doctrine and this policy will be court tested in the future and defeat the Icebreaker environmental treachery. Keep in mind the Icebreaker is a public/private venture.
From the Ohio Costal Management Program, Policy 16 – Public Trust Lands (in part):
IT IS THE POLICY OF THE STATE OF OHIO TO PROTECT THE PUBLIC TRUST HELD WATERS AND LANDS UNDERLYING THE WATERS OF LAKE ERIE, PROTECT PUBLIC USES OF LAKE ERIE AND MINIMIZE THE OCCUPATION OF PUBLIC TRUST LANDS FOR PRIVATE BENEFIT…
and referencing Ohio Revised Code and/or Ohio Administrative Code O.R.C. 1506.10 and 1506.11 and O.A.C. 1501-6-01 through 1501-6-06; O.R.C. 1506.32 and O.R.C. 1506.31
The waters of Lake Erie and lands underlying them belong to the state as proprietor in trust for the people of the state for the public uses to which they may be adapted, subject to the powers of the
United States government, to the public rights of navigation, water commerce and fishery, and to the
property rights of littoral owners, including the right to make reasonable use of the waters in front of
or flowing past their lands (O.R.C. 1506.10). Ohio’s “public trust doctrine” was originally established in 1803 when Section 14, Article III, of the “Northwest Ordinance” gave the new state authority to regulate activities occurring in navigable waters within state boundaries.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Illinois Central Railroad Company v. Illinois 146 US 387 (1892) that the state may not abdicate its control of public trust properties and leave them under private control. Subsequent court decisions have looked with disfavor upon governmental actions that reallocated public uses to those of a select, private party. The Illinois RR case is a landmark law case that is referred to in most any Public Trust Doctrine litigation.
Who will grant money to LEEDCo or others – to prevail in the certain legal fight to come? LEEDCO and Freshwater Wind I have virtually no control over the certain legal battle involving public trust except to pay expensive attorney’s fees and court costs – is this in their budget? Ohio’s Lake Erie riparians would never tolerate the exploitation of Lake Erie – they would first present a vigorous court challenge to protect themselves.
When enough Ohioans, especially Lake Erie riparians, observe their quality of life assaulted by wind zealots, conflicted public officials and voodoo economics – the matter will soon reach court review, hold up the Icebreaker project and hopefully the courts will defeat any/all Great Lakes offshore wind factories in the future.
Why squander financial resources on LEEDCo but instead consider supporting more promising job producing ventures that don’t produce anger, alarm and corrosive social division. If Ohio allows the Icebreaker project to develop – the state of Ohio would simply not be acting as a trusted, responsible environmental steward of Lake Erie. Why can’t Ohio support developing automobile engines that run off natural gas, or affordable electric cars or energy plants that are powered by new mini or modular clean nuclear power incapable of meltdown.
Most important to note is that so many private citizens and concerned groups worked tirelessly and free for decades to clean up Lake Erie and other Great Lakes and their successes can be seen everywhere in the Great Lakes system. Please don’t betray their investment in our future in this greatest of earth’s freshwater resources. Much of the time spent on this issue was done at no cost by people who have a commitment far beyond the wind companies “profit at all cost” mentality. Too much has been invested in Lake Erie to turn the clock back.
Governor Kasich – you have an opportunity right now to prevent the industrialization of Lake Erie with offshore wind turbines. Some years from now when an offshore Lake Erie wind factory has only a few turbines operating while all of them are rusting dangerous hulks stained with dripping fluids and lubricants – people will be asking – how could they have done this to Lake Erie? Could you stand to own a spectacular lakeside home on Lake Erie and look out at night and see hundreds of red strobe lights atop 500’ tall offshore turbines – flashing all night long? Don’t public use areas along the shore for camping and resort activities deserve great aesthetics too? Please stop this Icebreaker project.
Alan and Mary Isselhard
8135 North Huron Rd.
Wolcott, New York 14590
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Great Lakes Wind Truth http://greatlakeswindtruth.org/
Coalition On Article X http://coaxny.org/
Lake Ontario Riparian Alliance http://www.loranet.org/