LEEDCo to begin Lake Erie tests

A 90-foot jack-up barge will begin performing test borings and take soil samplings on the weekend of 11 May in Lake Erie off Cleveland at the proposed site for the country’s first freshwater offshore wind project.

The barge, contracted by Lake Erie Development Corporation (LEEDCo), will arrive at a Cleveland dock on Saturday, according to the developer. LEEDCo is a regional public-private partnership based there.

The drilling will take place over a five day period in four areas about seven nautical miles (12.9km) from shore that LEEDCo has under lease option with the state of Ohio, which owns the bottomlands. Water depth there is about 62.3-feet (19 meters).

LEEDCo will use the borings to complete a soil profile of the lake bed in order to tailor construction plans for its 27MW Icebreaker project to the Lake Erie environment. That work has been contracted to northern Ohio company Conestoga-Rovers.

The lake bed there is believed to have a 15-foot layer of soft, unconsolidated sediment followed by relatively consolidated sediment, beneath which is bedrock. 

Current plans call for installation of monopile foundations designed to reduce loading from ice that forms on the lake during winter months.

The US Energy Department has awarded LEEDCo $4m in funding under its Advanced Technology Demonstration initiative for early-stage offshore wind projects. The developer is using the money to complete the engineering, site evaluation, and planning phase of the project.

DOE, which is funding seven pilot projects, will then select up to three of them to advance the follow-on design, fabrication, and deployment phases to achieve commercial operation by 2017. These projects will be eligible for up to $47mover four years, subject to congressional appropriations.

LEEDCo has a memorandum of understanding to sell 25% of nameplate capacity to Cleveland’s municipal utility. A LEEDCo official tells Recharge that the developer is making “good progress” in negotiations with other utilities to sell the balance.