The Call for Wind Energy Development on Lake Erie Led by Union Members

By Sarah Taylor

Cleveland has been a city of innovation, right from the very beginning. In 1796 Moses Cleaveland, in his westward journey from Connecticut, discovered the area around the mouth of the Cuyahoga River, and decided that this would be the “capital city” of the Western Reserve.

Cleveland’s advantage, in developing a Great Lakes port, was magnified greatly by the completion
of the Ohio and Erie Canal just thirty five years later, followed by railroad construction, which
allowed for connections to be made to the south. Iron ore could be shipped across the Lake from
Minnesota, and coal could be brought up from Appalachia. Cleveland rapidly became a center of
steel manufacturing, and thus home to numerous major steel firms. Other types of manufacturing
developed and the city became one of the major population centers in the United States.

It is very exciting that Cleveland has, once again, the opportunity to make use of its geographical
location, becoming a leader in taking us into a new era of manufacturing. As before, one of the
resources that will be required is at our doorstep: Lake Erie.

The Icebreaker Wind Farm has been proposed as an initial wind power installation on our Great
Lakes, a few miles offshore from Cleveland. Geological, environmental and other studies have
been done during the past nine years, and now the project is under review by the OPSB.
Written comments from the public have been encouraged, over the past year or so, regarding
opinions as to whether the project should go ahead, and they can be viewed on line. Of the roughly 900 statements received so far by the OPSB, about 800 of them are in support, and about 100 are in opposition.

What is very interesting to note is that over half of the supportive statements have come in from
union members. Those members include many from the International Brotherhood of Electrical
Workers, as well as from the Union of Carpenters and the Ironworkers Union. From their words,
one can see their emphasis on economic development and the associated job growth that would
take place. However, in addition, many of their submissions also point out that Cleveland could
once again play a leadership role in making use of our natural resources. They realize that the
strong, steady winds blowing across our Lake could provide us with a very large source of clean,
constant electrical energy. And that energy could be used by an increasing number of homeowners, community buildings, and local manufacturers. After the initial installation costs are taken care of, the cost of that new source of power will rapidly decline.

As well as the supply of this clean source of power to the region, there will be the cutting-edge
manufacturing opportunities that will immediately evolve. Ohio is already the home to many wind
turbine component manufacturers. Presumably, those companies will dramatically increase in

A hundred years ago our city’s leaders realized that, along with the industrial innovation that they
were fostering, they could also provide Cleveland with more long-term benefits. Their cultural
leadership – particularly for the arts, and music – continues to benefit us to this day.

Currently there is a new ambition, that really dominates all those that have gone before it. As
before, there will be an ‘industrial revolution’, in which new structures are manufactured, to fill the
needs of not just our city and region, but beyond. In addition, it will allow us to develop a
desperately needed goal: By producing a new, clean type of power, we can actually provide
leadership for keeping hold of a livable planet.

In the past, it was industrial magnates who provided the leadership for seeing, and changing for
better, the world around us.

Today, it is trades union members who are sharing that long-term vision, giving a thumbs-up to
the Icebreaker Project, and calling out for this essential move to creating a more sustainable future,
for us all.