Ontario court rules against offshore developer

Trillium Wind Power to appeal judge's decision

Ontario-based offshore wind developer, Trillium Wind Power, says it will appeal a court decision that has rejected its CDN$2.3bn (US$2.3bn) damage claim brought by the company over the Ontario government’s decision last year to block construction of all offshore wind farms within the province.

Trillium filed its damage claim after the province placed a moratorium on offshore wind development in February 2011. At the time, the provincial government said that more scientific study was needed of offshore wind's environmental impacts. The decision derailed four projects Trillium says it had spent more than CDN$5m developing, including a 420MW project in Lake Ontario for which the company says it was within hours of securing CDN$26m in financing.

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."

Trillium chief executive John Kourtoff told Windpower Offshore that 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."