Sen. Brown, Gov. Strickland Outline Plans to Advance Offshore Wind Turbine Projects

Brown Announces New Bill to Help Make Clean Energy Production off Lake Erie’s Coast a Reality; Strickland Gives Updates on State Efforts to Advance Wind Energy; LEEDCo Announces First RFP

CLEVELAND, OHIO - U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Governor Ted Strickland joined Cleveland leaders today to outline plans to advance offshore wind energy projects. Brown unveiled new legislation aimed at advancing the installation of offshore wind turbines in freshwater bodies like Lake Erie, and Strickland gave an update on state efforts to advance wind energy.

"Lake Erie is ready to be home to the first offshore wind turbines in fresh water," Brown said. "The Lake is shallow enough to support offshore wind turbines and is also surrounded on land by Ohio's rich industrial base. With the right priorities in Washington, Columbus, and Cuyahoga County, we will not only make this project a reality, but we'll also revitalize Ohio's manufacturing base and create new jobs. Wind energy will not only lower costs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but will also create new demand for components produced by Ohio's supply chain."

"Ohio's greatest potential for creating wind energy is offshore in Lake Erie. Offshore wind, in particular, offers opportunities for our manufacturing sector and for Ohio shipyards. Ohio can build the installation vessels needed in all the Great Lakes; Ohio can build the towers; Ohio can build the turbines and the blades; Ohio can build all the component parts," Strickland said. "Senator Brown's legislation will strengthen the federal government's partnership with Great Lakes states as we make sure the wind energy industry grows in Ohio. This legislation will also provide grants to our universities that are already focusing innovative research on solving the unique challenges of offshore wind in fresh water."

Federal Efforts

Brown's new legislation, The Program for Offshore Wind Energy Research and Development (POWERED) Act of 2010, would spur research on potential offshore wind projects, expand incentives for offshore wind development, and require the Department of Energy (DOE) to develop a comprehensive roadmap for the deployment of offshore wind. Brown is also the original cosponsor of S. 3062, legislation which would provide the offshore wind industry with enhanced stability by extending production and investment tax credits for offshore wind until 2020. These provisions are vital because of the long lead times required to permit and construct wind turbines offshore, compared to onshore wind energy. Brown's POWERED Act has been endorsed by The University Clean Energy Alliance of Ohio, Case Western Reserve University, The University of Toledo, Bowling Green State University, The Ohio State University, The Great Lakes Wind Network, and by wind developers like NRG Bluewater Wind.

State Efforts

Ohio is moving forward with several wind projects in the next year, and Governor Strickland has called on the Ohio legislature to eliminate the tangible personal property tax on generation equipment for wind and solar. The state has also mapped Lake Erie into square mile grids and color coded them to identify the best places for turbines. The map is being regularly updated and is now adding information about the make-up of the lake bed. Working with Case Western Reserve University, a designated "Ohio Center of Excellence" in advanced energy, the state is working to solve the unique challenges of offshore wind in fresh water-something that has yet to be done anywhere in the world.

The state is also reviewing existing Ohio laws and regulations to give wind developers the site control they need while still protecting Lake Erie. The State of Ohio continues to work with developers and manufacturers to create responsible state incentive packages to make sure this industry grows in Ohio. An offshore wind team made up of state agencies meets every week to discuss wind development in Ohio.

Regional Efforts

Formed in 2006, the Great Lakes Energy Development Task Force, chaired by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason, has investigated the potential for offshore wind in the Ohio waters of Lake Erie. Recently, several of the core members of the Task Force formed a nonprofit economic development corporation called the Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. (LEEDCo). This development corporation now has the mission to accelerate progress toward putting wind turbines in Lake Erie off the coast of northeast Ohio, with the goal of creating a regional offshore wind industry and stimulating increased economic activity in Ohio. As a project of NorTech Energy Enterprise, Richard Stuebi is leading the effort to formally launch LEEDCo, including the development of a business plan and governing structure. Today, LEEDCo announced a "Request for Proposals" (RFP) for a wind farm developer to provide assistance on an initial offshore wind project planned at 20 megawatts offshore downtown Cleveland.

"The Task Force's vision five years ago of putting wind turbines in Lake Erie is inching ever closer to reality," said Bill Mason, Chair of the Great Lakes Energy Development Task Force. "Tapping into this vast potential of off-shore wind will create thousands of new jobs and remake Cleveland as the Green City by the Blue Lake."

"The work of the Great Lakes Energy Development Task Force has solidly established Ohio in the emerging North American offshore wind sector," said Stuebi, who is serving as Interim President of LEEDCo during its launch phase. "It is LEEDCo's goal to build off of this work and bring more focused resources to the pursuit of offshore wind in Lake Erie, so that we can convert our currently favorable position into true industry leadership - and more importantly, increased economic activity and jobs in Ohio."

Brown and Strickland were joined today by Barbara Snyder, President of Case Western Reserve University. Brown's POWERED Act would establish the Offshore Wind Power Research and Development Program at the Department of Energy. The program would assist and coordinate offshore wind power analysis and implementation efforts by giving grants to states, institutions of higher education, and industry-academic consortia to conduct wind power analysis in such critical areas as: 1) development of state policies for use of offshore wind power in state power planning, including incentives for development; 2) development of plans for integration of wind resources into the electric grid including transmission, storage, and responsive load; 3) research on potential wildlife and ecological impacts; and 4) research on technologies that would improve the reliability and reduce the cost of offshore turbines.

"History demonstrates that our nation makes its greatest gains when higher education, government and industry collaborate," said Barbara Snyder, President of Case Western Reserve University. "This proposal encourages all of us to come together to provide solutions for one of the most pressing issues of our time."

Brown's POWERED Act would expand incentives for offshore wind development by increasing the allowance of renewable energy tax credits for offshore wind under a national renewable energy standard. This provision is aimed at addressing the higher up-front capital costs of developing offshore wind resources, as well as the strength of wind resources found offshore. Drew Murphy, President of NRG's Northeast Region attended today's news conference on behalf of NRG Bluewater Wind, the company's offshore wind development subsidiary that is actively exploring project opportunities in Ohio. In a project in Delaware, NRG has estimated it will create 500 jobs during construction and between 60-80 jobs for operation and maintenance throughout the life of the project.

"NRG Energy applauds Senator Brown for his strong leadership in supporting the development of offshore wind. His efforts on this bill, along with Senator Tom Carper of Delaware, show that he and Governor Strickland recognize renewable energy's potential and its value to the region in providing clean power at stable prices and creating many new jobs," said Drew Murphy, President of NRG's Northeast Region."

Offshore wind offers enormous potential for producing domestic sources of clean energy and good-paying jobs in areas located close to large coastal population centers.

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