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Environment & Energy

Ohio Supreme Court considers the fate of the Icebreaker wind farm

photo of Ohio Supreme Court
The Ohio Channel
The Ohio Supreme Court heard arguments this week from opponents of the Icebreaker wind farm who say it's backer did not adequately study the potential impact on migrating birds and bats.

The plan to build six wind turbines eight miles off Cleveland’s shoreline is facing one final challenge.

photo of Mark Tucker attorney
The Ohio Channel
Attorney Mark Tucker represents two Bratenahl residents who are suing the Ohio Power Siting Board for improperly granting a permit to build six turbines eight miles off Cleveland's shoreline.

Opponents of the Icebreaker wind project argued before the Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday that backers did not adequately study the potential impact on migratory birds and bats.

Planners had hoped Icebreaker would be the nation’s first freshwater wind farm.

Now its fate is in question.

Attorney Mark Tucker represents two Bratenahl residents, W. Susan Dempsey and Robert M. Maloney who oppose the project and sued to have it stopped.

Tucker argued that backers did not adequately study how the project would affect birds and bats.

“No one can deny this fact, there has been no collection of this data at the project site,” he said.

Icebreaker’s lawyer Johnathan Secrest countered that experts before the Ohio Power Siting Board testified that the six offshore wind turbines pose less of a threat than land-based wind projects.

photo of Johnathan Secrest Icebreaker attorney
The Ohio Channel
Icebreaker's attorney Jonathan Secrest argued that safeguards to limit collisions with migratory birds and bats are part of the project's permit.

“And that is because there is no nesting habitat. There is no stop-over habitat. Birds are not going to be descending from their high-altitude migration to land at the project site,” Secrest told the justices.

Last year’s approval by the Ohio Power Siting Board included a requirement that technology be installed to measure bird and bat collisions, and that plans be in place to reduce them.

But even a positive ruling by the high court may not save Icebreaker.

Federal funding is set to expire, and the Norwegian company building the turbines, could back out before the case is decided.