Audubon Offers Conditional Support for Icebreaker Wind Project in Lake Erie

“Audubon supports Icebreaker if [the Ohio Power Siting Board] adopts the staff recommendations and conditions on birds.”

(July 19, 2018, Cleveland, OH)—This evening, the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) held a local public hearing regarding the proposed Icebreaker Wind Facility project, which if approved, would be the first offshore wind farm in the Great Lakes. Renewable Energy Director for National Audubon Society, Garry George, testified, who expressed support for the project if the Board adopts the recommendations made in the Staff Report of Investigation on protecting birds, which laid out 34 different conditions for approval, many centered on minimizing the threat to birds and other wildlife. As the first project of its kind in the Great Lakes, the Icebreaker project will set the standard for similar projects in the future.

An excerpt from the testimony presented by George:

Our 2014 Audubon Climate report tells us that 314 species of birds are seriously threatened by changes in climate on their breeding and wintering grounds unless we reduce emissions as rapidly as possible. Transforming our energy sector to renewables not only saves birds but also benefits people in cleaner air, new jobs and new growing economies in wind and solar development areas… Our concern is the potential impact of the Icebreaker project on water birds, especially the significant wintering population of Red-breasted Merganser, and the millions of birds that migrate twice a year at night over the Lake, two criteria that identify the Central Basin of Lake Erie as a globally significant Important Bird Area in an international program for bird conservation. The standards that Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Ohio Power Siting Board set… will set the standard for wind energy development, if any, in the entire Great Lakes. We support the standards set in the [Memorandum of Understanding] that Icebreaker Windpower, Inc. and ODNR have agreed to.

The OPSB will take comments made at tonight’s hearing under consideration. There is not yet a determined date for a final decision. 

In 2014, Audubon released its Birds and Climate Change report, a comprehensive, first-of-its kind study that predicts how climate change could affect the ranges of 588 North American birds. Of the 588 North American bird species studied, Audubon found that more than half are likely to be in trouble and models indicate that 314 species will lose more than 50 percent of their current climatic range by 2080. Audubon and other leaders in the science and conservation space agree that that in order to help prevent species extinctions and other catastrophic effects of climate change, pollution from fossil fuels must be reduced as quickly as possible. This will require rapidly expanding energy efficiency, renewable energy, and alternative fuels and making changes in land use, agriculture, and transportation.

Correction: A previous version of this release incorrectly stated that the project had preliminary conditional approval, it does not. Also, a previous version incorrectly stated that a final decision would be made on August 6, 2018. Lastly, the previous version incorrectly indicated construction could begin as early as summer of 2020, there is no projected date for the project to begin construction if approved. 

Properly sited wind power is an important part of the strategy to combat climate change. Wind power is currently the most economically competitive form of renewable energy.

Read the Board’s Staff Report of Investigation:

Read Audubon’s Letter to the Ohio Power Siting Board:

Read Audubon’s Birds & Climate Change report:

A regional office of the National Audubon Society, Audubon Great Lakes protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Great Lakes basin using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon Great Lakes brings together community scientists and conservationists to take the lead in advocating for and managing the ecosystems birds need to thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more about how to help at and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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