b'Great Lakes wind power: Will a saga of lost chances change?The NYSERDA study, which will update estimates andTrillium is appealing the decisionexpectations, is expected to be released soon. This is by no means the end of the saga. No one can NIMBY-ism, a glacial regulatory process and populistbuild on the lakebed in Ontario without several permits politics have combined to completely derail efforts so far. from the Ontario government, so it would be up to the Plans for the Icebreaker Wind Farm on Lake Erie startedOntario government to decide if it wants a far-offshore wind to be formulated in 2009, when the city of Cleveland, two Ohiodevelopment, said Kourtoff, in a follow-up email. He estimated counties and a local foundation launched the Lake Erie Energyit would take an additional four to five years after financial close Development Corporation specifically to develop wind powerto get the facility up and running.on the lake. Three other counties and the wind power developer, Oslo-based Fred Olsen Renewables, subsequently joinedChallenge of the Great LakesLEEDCo, which identified a site in 2014 and, two years later, wonConstructing lake wind farms shares many of the same a $40 million grant from the DoE to construct the wind farm.challenges as oceanic offshore wind installations, but also The Ohio Power Siting Board approved a permit in early 2020,exhibits several major differences.although the board initially ruled that the turbines must shutThe advantages are numerous, Kourtoff said. Two are down at night for much of the year to protect birds and bats. (Itobvious: Fresh water and insignificant wave size. The lack of reversed course a year later.) Meanwhile, residents of a smallsalt corrosiveness, for example, reduces the cost of equipment lakeside suburb sued the board, accusing it of overreach. Forpurchase and upkeep considerably, Kourtoff said. In the oceans, two years, the project was stalled. In August, the Ohio Supremeyou have to buy the more costly sort of specialized pressurized Court came down squarely in favor of the board. wind turbines, and they get all mucked up, he said. Their costs Before it can continue the project, LEEDCo must now get itsare substantially more than expected for their operations and own act together. The corporations two top executives have leftmaintenance because of the corrosion of salt.for East Coast projects and Fred Olsen management soured onAs with oceanic offshore wind farms, the waters depth the prospects because of the lengthy delays. determines both the installation difficulty and the necessary Trilliums case was even more confoundingandtechnology. Great Lakes water depth is highly variable, although disappointing. Ontario Province opened up the Canadian sideLake Erie is relatively shallow, while Lake Superior is one of the of Lake Ontario to wind farm development in 2005 and Trilliumdeepest major lakes in the world. Not surprisingly, both the Erie was among the first to lay a claim. The Toronto-based companyand Ontario projects are located in shallow waters, which allow identified a sweet spot of shallow water and strong winds, somestraightforward fixed-bottom installation in bedrock.10 to 15 miles offshore. Its part way between Prince EdwardUsing floating turbines would allow far more latitude in County, in southern Ontario, and Oswego, NY, north of Syracuse,placement. It would also counter one environmental complaint with the possibility of plugging into grids on both sides of theagainst wind turbines, and thats stirring up sediment when border. As it waited for environmental clearances, Trillium lineddrilling into the lakebed. However, the technology for floating up investors.turbines isnt fully developed yet and is being tailored to the But in February 2011, literally the day before Trilliummuch larger offshore oceanic projects such as the North Sea was to close a financing package and begin soliciting bids,and the West Coast of the U.S.the provincial government of then Premier Dalton McGuinty,The Great Lakes present some unique hurdles for which had backed development, suddenly pulled the plug, anddevelopers as well. Shipping access is one big example.cancelled all projects, claiming further scientific researchIce flows pose another major challenge, at least in some was necessary. Why it did so remains a mystery, althoughshallower waters, such as on Lake Erie. However, Fullenkamp the McGuinty administration, facing elections later that year,said, even designs of the Lake Erie towers from several years appeared to be pandering to lakeside residents. back came up with a solution, which involve a kind of funneling Trillium sued the government for damages. In 2013, ansystem. Sheet metal is welded to the foundation at a 45 degrees appeals court dismissed most of the companys complaints,angle at ice level. When ice sheets hit the metal, they heave although it allowed to proceed the question of whether theupwards and are broken. This technology, Fullenkamp said, has government had specifically targeted Trillium. been deployed successfully in Europe.The case dragged on. In 2018, McGuintys former chiefA bigger issue may just be the lack of necessary of staff was convicted of deliberately scrubbing emails andinfrastructure. On the Atlantic seaboard, state after state physically destroyed cellphones to hide evidence of anotheris proposing ambitious plans and offering inducements for cancelled power project. Trillium then added an allegationmanufacturers, suppliers, and stagers to locate locally. Ideally, of evidence tampering, called spoliation, to its suit. A yearsaid Fullenkamp, foundation fabricators, for example, should do back, a court ruled against Trillium, saying such practices werethe final assembly close to the water.commonplace at the time they took place, although the judgeBut even on the East Coast, not every state will be able sympathized with the wind developer. to attract these plumb opportunities. Manufacturers need economies of scale. A common benchmark for turbine manufacturers to site a dedicated plant, for example, is 1GW per year. Getting 1 GW in the Great Lakes Region will be a lot more difficult, and probably years out, said Fullenkamp.Even the local ports of Cleveland and Toronto dont have the available space to host Great Lakes projects, should they materialize.14'