Prospectors hope to turn Crown Land claim into a big payday

Written by Rick Conroy  Wellington Times

Trillium Power Wind has never built or managed an industrial wind energy facility. The company has never erected a single industrial wind turbine. Yet it says it wants to erect the largest offshore wind energy project the world has yet seen, right here in Lake Ontario—17 kilometres from Long Point in Prince Edward County.

Trillium Power Wind brought its story to Picton last Wednesday following a roadshow in Napanee and in advance of another in Cape Vincent, New York on Thursday.

Trillium’s current story involves 138 industrial wind turbines erected in a V-shaped clump on a shelf of shallow water that rims the deepest part of the lake between Long Point and Lost Nation National Forest on the U.S. side of the lake—a shelf punctuated by series of islands known as the Ducks, including Main Duck and False Duck.

It is not the first time Trillium has peddled its grand ambition for capturing Lake Ontario wind to a County audience. It seems, however, little has changed in four years since Trillium was last here—other than its name (formerly Trillium Power Energy Corporation) and perhaps a more receptive regulatory regime.

Last year the McGuinty government enacted the Green Energy Act—lowering public safeguards to ease the path for wind developers, and upping the incentives to these developers through the rich feed-in tariff program. If successful, the Trillium project could earn 19 cents per kilowatt hour for 20 years for the developer—a lucrative premium over the average price the province pays for other sources of energy (3 cents per kWh).

Yet the project has barely budged in four years. Trillium was forced to cool its heels for two years after the Ontario government imposed a moratorium on offshore wind projects in 2006.

Then the meltdown of the worldwide financial system in 2008 led to the collapse of the sector needed to finance these large capital projects.

So it is that four years later Trillium is back, trying to craft a story it can use to attract investors and lenders. It has a steep hill to climb.

Trillium neither has the capital to undertake the $1.7 billion price tag, nor does it have a track record in building or managing projects of this scale. Without a track record the project is unlikely to attract investment. Banks and investors are hoarding cash and lending extremely cautiously in the wake of the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression.

Trillium is betting that financial markets will be more receptive in a year or two.

Trillium principal John Kourtoff gave the Picton presentation a pass; instead, Chief Development Officer Martin Parker answered questions for the wind developer.

Parker said he sees signs that the capital markets may be opening slightly for wind projects, pointing to a recent €300 million financing of a Belgian offshore wind project. That financing, however, was provided by the European Investment Bank, an arm of the European Union. It is hardly an indicator of easing credit markets.

“The market is coming around,” said Parker optimistically. “The question is: when we are ready to build, will the market be ready to finance the project? That we don’t know.”

But what about Trillium’s lack of experience and track record? Parker says Trillium will hire the experience it lacks and form partnerships to fill in its limitations. He points to its partnership with Vestas—the Danish supplier of wind turbines. Parker did not provide details of the partnership and how it would work, except to say Vestas wasn’t a financial partner.

“We will bring in people with a track record,” said Parker. “Vestas is the number one manufacturer of wind turbines in the world. We will bring them in as our project manager. They have experience in the European theatre.”

Why should Ontario and New York residents entrust this critical waterway, migratory bird pathway and marine life to a firm without a track record or experience in constructing such a massive project on Crown land?

“The only way I can answer that question is to say that everything we’ve done has been mindful of doing what is good for Ontario. And we will continue to do that.”

Parker says he hopes to have environmental studies completed by the end of this year. Many believe this is an ambitious time line but even Parker acknowledges all of Trillium’s plans hinge on the company’s ability to raise financing.

“If the environmental studies show that everything is okay it is conceivable that we could begin construction next year with turbines starting to go up in 2013—that is if the markets are receptive then.”

13 thoughts on “Prospectors hope to turn Crown Land claim into a big payday

  1. At least the author of this story gives us both sides of the discussion which is a bit of a bright light. Trillium is living in a dream world of hopes and wishes and “generalizations” that have absolutely no meaning in the Real World.

    They must have been “coached” by CANWEA before making their presentation…………..

    One day one of these Windies will mistakingly make a statement publicly which will be closer to the Truth: “we want to erect these useless monsters to make a killing off the taxpayers of Ontario!”

  2. “Vestas is the number one manufacturer of wind turbines in the world. We will bring them in as our project manager. They have experience in the European theatre.”
    Their experience here in Ontario hasn’t been a roaring success when homeowners are forced to abandon their dwellings.

  3. I checked the CanWEA website and found out that Trillium Power IS NOT a member Quixote should check their facts before.

    I checked the cost of water power (hydro) at the Beck 3 tunnel at Niagara Falls and it was supposed to cost approximately $3.93MM per MW and have been completed about 18 months ago. Instead, it is 3 years behind and more importantly will now cost nearly $1.3Billion or $7.88MM per MW – and we taxpayers and ratepayers are on the hook for that. At least with private developers they have to eat any cost overruns as happened in B.C. where the developers of the Dokey Wind farm lost 90% of their capital and there was no cost to the taxpayers of B.C. – not a penny.

    BTW – the cost of the Beck 3 is nearly twice the cost of offshore wind according to media and investment community reports – AND – we the taxpayers and ratepayers do not have to pay for the overcharges.

    Windpower is not a panacea – but neither are ANY of the alternatives – especially coal, nuclear, oil and gas where all of the ‘externalities’ (i.e. problems) are socialized for all of us to “enjoy” and pay for.

  4. It seems to me that AMO (Association of Municipalities of Ontario) should be able to ‘scrape’ together $500k to have a comprehensive peer-reviewable study that reviews all of the information available from other studies of wind farms all over the World and does a proper statistical analysis of setbacks, health effects (if any) and can provide important new information rather than inuendo and anecdotal conjecture.

    If the AMO is not doing these types of studies out of their very large combined budgets then what are they doing.

  5. Hey Tipster..I didn’t say Trillium was a member of CANWEA……feeling a bit of heat are we?………..Hornung has to publish a trumped up article in the County Weekly to reassure all his “buddies” that he’s doing something positive against the rising tide of informed citizens that are finding out what a SCAM Wind really is?

    Wind Energy World Wide is failing so badly that Germany along with Denmark are cancelling their subsidization of Wind Energy because they are almost bankrupt! Spain is on the verge of bankruptcy because of their high electricity costs due to Renewable subsidies, not to mention the loss of Industry and jobs!

    Propaganda only lasts as long as the people are sleeping but one by one we are waking up the citizens of this Province and showing them how low this Industry really is!

  6. Hornung’s article is a bit difficult to read. The gabage is pretty deep thoughout the article with nothing but hot air. As much as wind has some applications, industrial wind, which appears to be referenced is not much of an answer to any of the problems mentioned. It is old news and not sure how anyone can believe that crap without thick rose coloured glasses.

  7. Trillium, like a lot of wind companies, are raising foreign capital that Ontario ratepayers will pay four times over.

    Did I mentin foreign? Did I mention that we are going to pay four times more then they “invested”?

  8. 17 kms from shore is not far enough. From my home on Lake St. Clair, on any non-hazy day, I can cleary see the 5 giant turbines that are in Grande Pointe , 23 kms across the lake.

    The worst of it is at night time, with the blinking super powerful red beacons flashing in the night sky. What a disgraceful blight on our natural landscape.

  9. Tipster, constructing wind mills from
    one end of Ontario to the other is going
    to do absolutely dick for the world’s
    pollution problem or Ontario’s for that
    matter. You ‘ve got to get real man.
    Green energy at its optimum will only
    provide Ontario with a small percentage
    of our real power needs and at that
    it will have to be backed up by the power
    sources you seem to detest. If you want
    utopia, move to the boonies and get off
    the grid.

  10. At the Picton meeting I pressed them for the cost of the 28 km underwater cable needed to connect to the grid. It will be $1,000/m to buy and $600/m to install–$44,800,000. They said as it stands now they would have to pay for it, which I figured they meant they would try to get the government to pay for it. The total project wiring and transformer costs would be about $340,000,000 I was told.

    They also had a display board claiming that the power from this project would be cheaper than coal, gas, and nuclear when fully costed. Those three can actually produce power when you need it.

    On their comment sheet, I marked that I was opposed to the project based on the bird kill reports I’ve seen from Wolfe Island.

  11. Kamaoa Wind Farm not the image presented by wind companies. More time not producing power and abandoned. Rusting hulks comes to mind…. Why would any other industrial wind project be any different as maintenance costs increase? Paint to keep the turbines a pretty pure white is an expense with no returns.
    “California’s wind farms — then comprising about 80% of the world’s wind generation capacity — ceased to generate much more quickly than Kamaoa. In the best wind spots on earth, over 14,000 turbines were simply abandoned. Spinning, post-industrial junk which generates nothing but bird kills.” Taken from:

  12. Tipster:

    There are at least 625 turbines in Ontario — plus those recently commissioned. What is on the books will double that number. Then if you add in the Samsung deal we should have well over 2000. Some days those 2000+ turbines will provide little or no power — and they will still be an eyesore, and they will still make too much noise and they will produce far too little for value invested..

    If you follow the link on this site to the generator reports you will see that over 99% of Ontario power is provided by very few installations. I will leave it to you to count them — but is it less than 10% of the number of wind turbines? Do they take up a lot less land than wind turbines? Do they disturb a lot fewer people?

    If we are going to attempt to have reliable power production for say 10% of our needs, I think we would need over 17,000 widely dispersed turbines over southern and northern Ontario. But that would just play the averages — it would not give certainty. (And I do mean attempt…)

    Hydro generators may be expensive, and so is nuclear. However, they produce on demand — as does coal.

    Feel free to read my paper on this site under Viability (Watts With the Wind”. I will be pleased to argue numbers, utility, reliability and land use with you — after you read it — then we can get right to the point as you will know where I stand, and what positions I can currently support.

    As far as oil coal and gas Pollution, please reference the Ross McKitrick paper responding to doctors complaints of death caused by coal plants. It is available at the University of Guelph site and should answer any questions or concerns that you may have regarding the effect of coal fired electrical power plants may have on health. If you can’t find the McKitrick paper I will find the link for you.

    Let’s face it. Wind Turbines are not a viable option for Ontario now, and they I can’t see that any engineering miracles will make them function without wind, and that happens far too much in Ontario. Look at the numbers for yourself.

    Looking forward to a good discussion…


  13. Who is Trillium? Not a lot of information…

    John Kourtoff – President and CEO of Trillium Power Wind Corporation

    With over 20 years experience in renewable energy, John is a member of several regulatory and standing national and bi-national committees pertaining to green energy and sustainable solutions, particularly offshore wind integration. John is one of the three founders of Trillium Power Wind Corporation, a Toronto-based pioneer of offshore wind development in The Great Lakes. Trillium Power is developing the four most optimal Great Lakes offshore wind sites, which combined will generate 3,500 MW of clean, perpetual and reliable electricity.

    John has been a speaker and panelist at numerous international conferences on offshore wind and renewable energy. He was the Canadian delegate for a low-carbon economy at the G8 Environment Conference in Siracusa, Italy and is a former co-chair of the Ontario Government Finance Advisory Committee and member of the Government Energy Advisory Committee. Formerly, John served as President of World Connect Inc. and VP of BPI Capital Management and McLeod Young Weir Ltd. John has placed a strong focus on developing long-lasting solutions that integrate best-practices and new thinking in the areas of sustainability, finance, energy and the environment.

    … and …

    “John and I have always agreed on the undeniable fact that Ontario’s economy was built on renewable energy and the stability it has provided us for the past century. A large project such as Sir Adam Beck’s Niagara Falls was necessary to anchor our sustainable energy sector nearly 100 years ago and Trillium Power’s large offshore wind developments will be the anchor to Ontario’s sustainable economic development as we go forward with the Green Energy Act. The strategic relationship between Vestas and Trillium Power is an important recognition of how far Ontario has come in creating the framework for a sustainable energy economy and the vast renewable energy potential that remains to be developed”, said Marion Fraser, energy consultant and former advisor to Ontario Energy Ministers.

    Trillium Power Wind Corporation is a privately owned company headquartered in Toronto, Ontario focused on the development of unique renewable energy sites that meet a comprehensive set of environmental, social and financial criteria.

    AND From treehugger(.com)

    Ontario’s bucolic Prince Edward County is primarily a large island in Lake Ontario, settled by United Empire Loyalists running from the American Revolution and in a world of its own for much of the time since. Lately it has been discovered and has become trendy, with cheese factories, wineries, huge runups in real estate prices, turning into a Canadian Cape Cod. Thus we shuddered when we read about 142 turbines being installed there- will this be another Cape Wind disaster, with all the new second home types (half of them lawyers) ganging up to protest the project? Fortunately the Trillium Power Corporation has thought about this. “If you look out on the horizon, you’ll barely see anything on the clearest day,” said Trillium President John Kourtoff. They have also worried about fish habitats and bird flightpaths and declare it clean. We look forward to 700 megawatts of clean power soon. ::Tyler Hamilton in the Star and ::Renewable Energy Access

    Got it? Don’t see nuttin’ anyway. grump…!

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