Wisconsin PSC Great Lakes offshore wind study

Bordering two of the Great Lakes, New York may have interest in this recent study from the Wisconsin Public Service Commission regarding the potential of Great Lakes offshore wind to satisfy Wisconsin’s electricity needs.  The study concludes that

…while off-shore wind projects are technically feasible and represent one potential approach to meeting a portion of the State’s long-term energy needs, the development of such projects in the Great Lakes will require a coordinated effort by state and federal agencies, local government, affected Indian Tribes, and possibly the Wisconsin Legislature. Of the two lakes, Lake Michigan likely offers the greatest opportunities for development of off-shore wind projects and should be the focus of any future efforts by the State. Wisconsin’s waters in Lake Superior are not extensive and a substantial portion is subject to development or use restriction. Should the PSCW decide to continue its investigation of offshore wind development in the Great Lakes, the likely next step would be to collect wind resource, wildlife, and other ecological baseline data at specific lake sites. The off-shore capacity factors will be one of the fundamental economic drivers for these projects and will help to define the risk for the first Wisconsin project. Other possible next steps could include the following:

  • Further investigate and promote research and development on deep water foundations;
  • Initiate discussions with local ship builders, other states and Canada on procuring a construction vessel for the Great Lakes; and
  • Begin working with the Wisconsin Legislature to consider legislative changes that would facilitate the development of off-shore wind on the Great Lakes.

While tapping the vast wind resources on the Great Lakes has the potential to create significant quantities of renewable energy for Wisconsin, further investigation is required before moving forward with a large scale project.

The report is HARNESSING WISCONSIN’S ENERGY RESOURCES: AN INITIAL INVESTIGATION INTO GREAT LAKES WIND DEVELOPMENT, A REPORT TO THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION OF WISCONSIN (DOCKET 5-EI-144). We previously reported on a 2008 study from Buffalo Law regarding Great Lakes offshore potential in New York.

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