Report: Lake Erie turbines feasible

COLUMBUS (AP) — Energy researchers say the winds blowing across Lake Erie can power wind turbines, but the project won’t be cheap.

A study released Friday showed it will cost $77 million to $92 million to build several turbines and a nearby wind research center to be run by Case Western Reserve University. Earlier estimates had put the price tag at about $60 million.

The world’s first freshwater turbines would stand some 260 feet above the water level and produce up to five megawatts of power each — enough to power up to 5,000 homes. Visible from downtown Cleveland, they would be built 3 to 5 miles offshore.

Europe already has wind farms in shallow ocean waters off Denmark and the United Kingdom. The United States’ first ocean-based wind farms are expected to begin operating in shallow waters off Atlantic Coast states in the coming years.

The study, commissioned last year by the Great Lakes Energy Task Force, was conducted over the course of a year by German research firm Juwi International. It’s the first step in a slow march toward harnessing wind power in Cleveland. Proponents say the pilot project could create thousands of manufacturing jobs and rejuvenate the financially ailing city.

“We want to remake Cleveland as a green city on a blue lake,” said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason, the task force chairman.

The U.S. has no offshore wind production, although projects are in the works for Atlantic waters off Delaware, New Jersey and Rhode Island.

The task force will gauge community interest in the turbines over the coming months while seeking federal funding and private investment, Mason said. Officials hope to have the first turbines in place by early 2011.

Building turbines in the water costs two to three times more than it would cost to build them on land, Mason said.

The study recommends building the turbines on eastern parts of the lake based on factors such as wind power, shipwrecks, water depth and shipping channels.

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