MOMENTUM GROWS FOR GREAT LAKES OFFSHORE WIND
There will soon be cities all over the upper midwest vying with Chicago for the nickname "windy."
The enormous potential of the Great Lakes region’s wind assets, possibly enough capacity to generate a third of U.S. electricity, will not go untapped much longer. (See Michigan's Offshore Wind Potential and A STRONGER WIND...)
Preparations are necessary.
Jurisdiction must be clearly delineated between 8 states and 2 Canadian provinces.
Environmentalists must sign on to any plan because bird migration corridors and fish spawning sites are at stake. The business community must be on board because shipping lanes and energy supplies will be affected.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers might be required to cope with unique challenges like the winter ice cover.
Legislation may be necessary to establish where turbines are legal and what the fair market value is for turning public resources held in trust for all the citizens of the region into energy assets.
Jennifer Nalbone, navigation and invasive species director, Great Lakes United: "This is our last frontier, our wild west…Renewable energy is the direction we want to go, but you don't want to enter it blindly."
The wind energy industry's habit has long been to keep its siting procedures and development policy practices as clean as the energy it generates. By all reports, it is laying the groundwork to do so once again in the Great Lakes region.
Look at that wind! (click to enlarge)
Regulators plan Gr. Lakes offshore wind generation
John Flesher, October 29, 2008 (AP via Chicago Tribune)
John Cherry, University of Michigan researcher, Great Lakes Commission; Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (Tom Graf, Land and Water Management Division); Laurie Jodziewicz, siting policy manager, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA); Chris Shafer, professor, Thomas M. Cooley School of Law
Wind developers are ambitiously studying the Great Lakes region for its offshore wind potential. In response, state and federal officials have begun to write rules and environmentalists are watching closely.
Cleveland could be in for a tremendous energy boom. (click to enlarge)
- October 27 to 29: Updates were reported at the International Submerged Lands Management Conference.
- Now: The U.S. has no offshore installations but projects are in planning stages for the Delaware, New Jersey and Rhode Island.
- Soon? A feasibility study is being done for Lake Erie, near Cleveland.
- Denmark, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Ireland have offshore installations.
- Germany has 20+ offshort projects in development.
- Denmark's largest offshore installation is 80 turbines 8-to-12 miles off its coast.
- Installations on the Great Lakes would have implications for commercial and recreational navigation, water quality, fish habitat and flight patterns of birds and aircraft.
- From a Michigan State University study: Michigan's portion of the Great Lakes could produce ~322,000 megawatts of windpower (w/ nearly 100,000 turbines), which is ~1/3 U.S. electricity.
- Producers and planners are urging the Great Lakes states to designate acceptable sites and sites for shipping lanes, bird migration corridors and fish spawning that wouild be off-limits to turbines. Michigan's Institute for Fisheries Research is working to identify such locations.
Details of Great Lakes offshore development. (click to enlarge)
- John Cherry, University of Michigan researcher, Great Lakes Commission: "It's an unknown, so there's a huge amount of risk…Everybody would like to be the second program to do it. The first will be a regulatory trailblazer."
- Laurie Jodziewicz, siting policy manager, AWEA: "There is interest in the Great Lakes, and I know some companies are looking there…"
- Tom Graf, Land and Water Management Division, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality: "We may find we don't have the authority to address a lot of these issues…"
- Chris Shafer, professor, Thomas M. Cooley School of Law: "It's entirely too easy to consider that a free resource that should be provided to the energy industry…"