Trillium to appeal Lake Ontario damages claim

CANADA: Ontario-based offshore wind developer, Trillium Wind Power has said it will appeal the rejection its CDN$2.3bn (US$2.3bn) damage claim against the Ontario government.

Lake Ontario - moratorium on offshore wind farm development
Lake Ontario - moratorium on offshore wind farm development

Trillium was in the process of planning a 450MW project on Lake Ontario. This was stopped when the Ontario government called a halt to development on the lake on environmental grounds.

Provincial government lawyers asked Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice to reject Trillium's damage claim at a hearing in August. In his ruling issued this week, judge Robert Goldstein said the province was within its rights in declaring the moratorium.

The government "was empowered to set or alter policy with regard to the development of wind power," said Goldstein. Trillium did not have a contract with the province but was simply involved in a regulatory process that might have led to approvals to build a wind farm, he also noted, concluding that "it is clear the actions of the defendant were not illegal."

The provincial government surprised the industry in February with an announcement that it would no longer accept applications for offshore wind projects under its feed-in tariff (FIT) programme and will suspend those that have already been filed.

At the time, a government spokesperson said more scientific study was needed before it can develop rules for offshore development. She said the province plans to work with neighbouring US jurisdictions "to develop research that makes sure any future proposed projects protect the environment on both sides of the Great Lakes".

Trillium chief executive John Kourtoff said the company will file an appeal shortly, arguing the judge made procedural and factual errors in his decision. Kourtoff insists that the moratorium was imposed for political and not scientific reasons, with the government seeking to mollify offshore wind opponents in the run-up to a provincial election later that year.

"All this has done is delay what is going to happen eventually," says Kourtoff. "If the government is serious about renewable energy, it cannot ignore offshore."

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