(The Center Square) – Residents along Lake Erie may one day soon see wind turbines rising above the water surface.

This, after the state House OK’d a plan to permit land leases in the central and western regions of the lake. While supporters say the development plans avoid ecological and economic disruptions, critics beg to differ.

“If this bill is proposed for environmental stewardship, it’s anything but,” said Rep. Jake Banta, R-Waterford, during floor debate Tuesday.

House Bill 254 – proposed by Rep. Rob Merski, D-Erie – would charge a two percent royalty fee to wind and solar developers that would split among local and state agencies to reinvest back into conservation projects in the area.

While expected revenue remains unclear, a fiscal note indicates the state will spend roughly $1.25 million annually for eight new workers required to implement the program.

“By investing in clean energy, we are not only reducing our carbon footprint but also catalyzing innovation, creating jobs and ensuring energy security for generations to come,” Merski said.

He added that environmental and labor groups, along with the Fish and Boat Commissions and state Departments of Environment Protection and Community and Economic Development, worked together on the proposal.

“When everyone is brought to the table, we can bridge the gap between good-paying jobs and renewable energy,” Merski said.

Banta said negotiations, however, left out the property owners, anglers and charter captains he represents who “want to preserve their peaceful way of life.” All of them worried the wind turbines would not only destroy the view along the shoreline, but risk contamination from oil leaks and stir up toxic sediment along the lake bed.

“The risk of the windmills on the lake are not worth the reward,” Banta said.

The bill passed the House along party lines and heads to the Senate for full consideration.

The Center Square reached out to Erie County Sen. Dan Laughlin for comment, but did not receive an immediate response.

Christen Smith is Pennsylvania editor for The Center Square newswire service and co-host of Pennsylvania in Focus, a weekly podcast on America’s Talking Network. Recognized by Editor and Publisher Magazine as one of the media industry’s “Top 25 Under 35” in 2024.

This article was republished with permission from The Center Square.

4 thoughts on “Lake Erie targeted for wind, solar development”

  1. real smart idiots, when happens to solar panels and windmills when it snow’s and freezes and nothing works?

    1. Solar panels get energy from solar radiation, which happens even on overcast days. On days when it snows the snow can be brushed off, just like you would shovel a sidewalk. Windmills have been used in a wide range of weather conditions so they are not going to freeze.

  2. I respect the birds that are creamed by these turbines. I respect the land that could be used to produce food, but instead are turned over by a handsome subsidy. I respect people who are being denied affordable efficient proven electricity with a much much smaller “footprint” (proven long ago that scrubbers in the coal burning plants reduce actual pollution by 90%, and no, CO2 is not a pollutant but necessary for Green Plants/Trees/Algae. Wind turbines and solar panels were NEVER intended to provide more than 10% of the overall power, but now that’s morphed into 100% Alternatives. To the Victors, the $$$$$$Spoils. When the turbines and panels crap out, which they do much more quickly than the Public is told, they end up rotting in dumps around the world leaching their very very NON_GREEN Toxic brew ultimately into the water table… All as intended by the High Table.

  3. I DON”T want to see Wind Turbines on a beautiful, pristine lake.
    The energy savings are not worth it! Just because you have the power does not make it right!

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