LEEDCo 11 months earlier, he said, with the vision laid out in 2004. “A lot of great people have done a lot of good work, and our partners are world class. They are GE, Bechtel, which is the largest engineering construction firm in the U.S., Cavallo Energy, Great Lakes Wind Energy, and a host of others.”
In addition to the large industrials, LEEDCo has a research consortium that is scheduled to grow over time, and some 100 strategic advisors. One of these is Great Lakes Towing, for example, which has been operating for more than a century and understands the safety and navigational issues of Lake Erie better than any organization.
“There’s a true advantage in being the first mover,” Dr. Wagner said. “The primary infrastructure is going to be built where the first wind farms go. We want to capture the majority of the jobs, using the talents we have. We want Ohio to become the epicenter. Once the industry starts operating we will learn how to cut costs. We’re going to take something that is growing in the rest of the world, bring it here, and make it happen.”
The Potential for Job-creation
Dr. Wagner said that a NorTech-funded impact study by Kleinhenz &Associates estimated that LEEDCo could create about 8,000 jobs by 2030 if it developed 5 GW of power. That amount, he said, is approximately 10 percent of the potential for the Ohio waters of Lake Erie, or about 1 percent of what’s available in the entire Great Lakes. Currently, he said, Ohio is second or third in the country in manufacturing jobs for onshore wind, totaling about 7500 jobs in the state. When that total was compiled, the only wind farms were near Bowling Green, which is now being supplemented by additional activity in western Ohio.
Mr. Wagner said that the Cleveland region was “really good at doing this kind of work,” with good facilities for ports, large-scale construction, project fabrication, and staging. This would provide jobs for hundreds of Clevelanders, while later projects should employ thousands of Ohioans. More than half the jobs would come from associated services outside manufacturing, jobs that cannot be exported.
“For the current project,” he concluded, “we’re starting small, about seven miles off downtown Cleveland, with about five wind turbines. We received our submerged land lease option last January. The project will be three nautical miles long.” He showed a picture of an offshore nacelle, weighing 220 tons, presently the world’s largest offshore turbine blade, now used in a GE machine off Norway. “The new ones will be 50 percent larger than this,” he said in closing. “These cannot be hauled on the highways, so everything is going to have to be done in or near the ports. And we are ready for that.”