Challenge

Founded in 2009, the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) is a non-profit corporation leading efforts to build a sustainable offshore wind energy industry in the Great Lakes.  As a public-private partnership, LEEDCo represents Northern Ohio’s public interest in offshore wind.  LEEDCo’s first initiative is a demonstration facility called Project Icebreaker™, a 20.7 megawatt (MW) pilot wind farm located eight miles (13km) northwest of Cleveland, Ohio on Lake Erie.

The project consists of six 3.45 MW wind turbines supported by a foundation innovation called the “Mono Bucket”.  This foundation system was chosen due to its potential to reduce installation time and cost, reduce fabrication cost, lower levelized cost of energy (LCOE), and consequently help build a cost competitive offshore wind industry in the U.S.

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) selected LEEDCo as one of seven Offshore Wind Advanced Technology Demonstration Projects to receive $4 million to complete the first phase of their projects, which included engineering, site evaluation, and planning.  In May 2014, the DOE down-selected three of these projects to advance to the second phase, which includes design, fabrication, and construction.  LEEDCo was not selected to advance to the second phase.

Disappointed but undeterred, LEEDCo and its partners continued to pursue Icebreaker’s objectives.  By 2016, two of the projects originally selected for funding in 2014 had failed to meet DOE benchmarks and were subsequently downgraded.  Conversely, the Icebreaker project team made significant progress thanks to investment support from private partners and cooperative agreements with the DOE.

In recognition of this progress, the DOE selected LEEDCo to compete for up to $40 million in additional investment.  To be considered for this funding, the project team had to submit detailed proposals to showcase Icebreaker’s progress since 2014.  With the DOE’s deadline quickly approaching, LEEDCo asked LNE Group to serve on its proposal development team.

Approach

Working from LEEDCo’s Cleveland, Ohio headquarters, senior members of LNE Group’s Innovation Strategy & Funding Pursuit practice joined forces with LEEDCo management and staff to scope, draft and compile thousands of pages of proposal narrative.  The project team recognized it had a limited amount of time, so they worked late and through weekends to make wise and productive use of just four weeks.

Result

In May 2016, the DOE “on boarded” LEEDCo and designated the project as a finalist.  With this designation, LEEDCo is eligible to receive $40 million for the manufacturing and construction phases of the world’s first freshwater offshore wind energy facility.  LEEDCo is currently working toward achieving engineering, permitting and other construction goals set by DOE.  If this work is successfully completed, LEEDCo will receive grant funding in three annual $13.3 million tranches.

Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), the Ranking Member of the U.S. House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, said “The strength of the Icebreaker project, as opposed to its competitors, lies in LEEDCo’s commitment to leverage offshore wind energy with local Ohio-based jobs in the steel, construction, and transportation industries.  This means local job possibilities beyond wind generation are on the horizon.”

Generating cost-competitive offshore wind energy in Lake Erie will help the Midwest diversify its energy supply and develop the related manufacturing supply chain, thereby renewing the industrial fabric and creating positive economic impacts.