WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today announced that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will award Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) up to $50 million to continue construction on a first-of-its-kind offshore wind project in Lake Erie. Brown, a longtime advocate for the project, led a May 2012 letter signed by several members of the Ohio Congressional delegation, supporting LEEDCo’s application for DOE’s Advanced Technology Demonstration Program. LEEDCo was initially designated an Alternate but, today’s announcement will make LEEDCo one off three offshore wind demonstration projects funded in part by the DOE. After Brown led a letter last month to DOE Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Danielson, DOE designated LEEDCo a Finalist. The project will be installed in Lake Erie seven miles off the coast of Cleveland. DOE will award the funds over five Budget Periods, with LEEDCo receiving full funding if it completes the required engineering and technological criteria.
“LEEDCo is a leader in offshore wind technology and today’s announcement is a smart bet on the future of renewable energy in northeast Ohio,” Brown said. “This investment underscores LEEDCo’s potential to bring new jobs and clean energy to the United States. The development of this wind farm will harness Ohio’s manufacturing expertise and its renewable energy innovation, boosting the northeast Ohio economy and securing our energy future. I will continue to work with stakeholders to provide LEEDCo with the support it needs as it works to build North America’s first freshwater wind project.”
Brown has been a longtime advocate of offshore wind energy. In December 2015, Brown helped pass a tax extenders package that extended the Production Tax Credit – a tax credit for power generated by wind and other forms of renewable energy – until 2020.
In February 2013, Brown and a bipartisan group of Senators cosponsored the Incentivizing Offshore Wind Power Act – legislation to provide critical financial incentives for the investment and production of offshore wind energy. The bill would provide the offshore wind industry with enhanced stability through an investment tax credit for the first 3,000 megawatts installed. These provisions are vital because of the long lead times required to permit and construct wind turbines offshore, compared to onshore wind energy.
In July 2011, Brown attended an Offshore Wind Industry Roundtable, hosted by NorTech in Cleveland, and fought for funding to support offshore wind in Lake Erie that was announced in February 2011.
In 2010, Brown convened a high-level meeting with LEEDCo, its partners, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, DOE, and the Council on Environmental Quality on permitting challenges and questions. He urged the Obama administration to strongly consider establishing the country's first demonstration wind project in Ohio. That same year, Brown introduced the Program for Offshore Wind Energy Research and Development (POWERED) Act of 2010 which would bolster offshore wind projects, expand incentives for offshore wind development, and require the DOE to develop a comprehensive roadmap for the deployment of offshore wind.