The Lake Erie wind farm that was supposed to start kicking out clean electricity — and jobs — next year has hit a bit of a snag. Not enough parties have stepped up to buy wind-generated electricity to make the farm attractive to Key Bank, which initially expressed interest in financing the project.
“We still hope to start construction activity in 2013, but are not looking at deploying the units in the water until 2014,” says Lorry Wagner, president of the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation.
Last month, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson announced that Cleveland Public Power would buy 20 percent of the electricity generated by the wind farm and issued a plea for other big power users to step up. But Wagner says that even if a number of large electric customers — say, Cleveland Clinic — vow to buy wind power, it would pale in comparison to a commitment from a large buying group, similar to the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council.
Meanwhile, the wind project faces what could amount to a permanent setback: The state Senate is considering a bill that would repeal the 2006 law requiring public utilities to derive one-fourth of their power from renewable sources.
Such a repeal would be catastrophic for the Lake Erie wind farm — but wonderful for First Energy, which has been exemplary in its dodging of state regulations since the law was enacted.