Trillium says the decision “constituted bad faith ministerial decisions for political expediency,” and was an attempt to mollify “potential voters in swing ridings.”
By John Spears, Toronto Star
A wind power company caught by the Ontario government’s moratorium on offshore wind projects is suing the province for $2.25 billion in damages.
And a coalition of environmental groups is going to court seeking to block further progress on proposed new nuclear reactors at the Darlington nuclear station.
Both legal actions come in the final stages of an election campaign in which electricity – how it should be generated, and how much it should cost – is a contentious issue.
Trillium Wind Power Corp. filed a statement of claim against the province Wednesday.
Trillium has been planning a wind farm of up to 6oo megawatts in the waters of Lake Ontario near Kingston, 17 to 28 kilometres from shore.
It was halted in its tracks in February when the province put a moratorium on all off-shore wind projects, saying it needs to do further studies about possible health effects.
In its statement of claim, Trillium says the decision “constituted bad faith ministerial decisions for political expediency,” and was an attempt to mollify “potential voters in swing ridings.”
Allegations in a statement of claim have not been tested in court; they may be challenged, and withdrawn or amended.
Opponents of wind power have been hounding Liberals, both prior to and during the election campaign, arguing that big wind turbines threaten water quality, wildlife and human health.
Boosting renewable energy, including wind power, is a key election plank for the Liberals.
Trillium’s lawsuit says the company made a formal application to the ministry of natural resources to use the site for its wind project in 2004.
In 2010, Trillium says it was told by the environment ministry that its project was a “high priority.”
By early 2011, the company says it was on the verge of signing a $26 million financing deal with Dundee Corp. that was set to close on Feb. 11. Trillium says it informed the premier’s office on Feb. 9 of the impending closing.
But on Feb. 11 the government announced the moratorium on off-shore wind projects, saying more study on their impact is needed.
“No prior notice was ever made to Trillium Power,” the statement says. The financing with Dundee promptly collapsed.
John Kourtoff, chief executive of Trillium, said in an interview that his company the project was “down to the five-yard line” when the moratorium halted it.
He said he’s since tried to talk to the government about a solution but was told early this month by a senior official that there is “no political appetite” to re-start off-shore wind projects.
That left him “mad as hell” and with no option other than legal action, he said.
A spokesman for the attorney-general said, “we will defend this action,” but added that further comment would be inappropriate.
Meanwhile, a coalition of environmental, aboriginal and other groups is trying to block the construction of new nuclear reactors at the Darlington power station.
They are expected to file a legal action Thursday.
A federal panel had cleared the way in August for the nuclear project to advance, if certain conditions are met.
The coalition says the panel’s work was flawed.
In an earlier letter to federal environment minister Peter Kent, the coalition said the panel had failed to consider crucial information. For example, they say the panel made its decision without knowing what type of reactors will be built.