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O H & S | Green Building

March 29, 2012

Offshore wind project ready for construction

A motion calling for a moratorium on further wind development was recently defeated at Queen’s Park.

Filed by Progressive Conservative deputy energy critic Lisa Thompson, the motion would have halted further wind development until third party social, physical and economic health and environmental studies have been completed. The motion was defeated by the Liberals and the NDP.

“We need to slow down, hit the pause button on these industrial wind projects until we know the true social, physical and economic health and environmental costs of wind turbines,” said Thompson.

John Kourtoff, president and CEO of Trillium Power, one of Ontario’s largest offshore wind stakeholders, said moratoriums on renewable energy are coming from a bias towards nuclear power.

However, delivering new nuclear power has drawbacks.

“It is too costly and it never performs to the specifications. The costs are so prohibitive and they’re actually higher now because of Fukushima [nuclear disaster],” he said.

The province of Ontario issued a moratorium against offshore wind on Feb. 11, 2011, its second since 2008. Kourtoff said these have destroyed the industry.

“When you do these types of things it’s very, very difficult to get the people to believe that you won’t do it again because this has now happened twice to offshore,” he said.

“Unfortunately Ontario was so late to the global solar industry and so late to the onshore wind, that all the manufacturing facilities are outside of Ontario…and yet the one thing that would bring them is offshore wind and that one has been thrown under the bus.”

Kourtoff said Trillium Power was going to apply for its contract the week after the moratorium was imposed. He said Trillium is the only offshore project in Ontario ready to go to construction.

“We are the only ones that have done our open houses, we’ve completed our studies, the government knows this. We have completed 104 studies, reports and activities ready to go to construction. We are at least three years ahead of any developer in the Great Lakes.”

Trillium issued a claim against the Ontario government last September. Earlier this year the government filed a motion to strike out that claim. Morris Cooper of Morris Cooper & Associates, legal counsel for Trillium, said they are probably looking at a date sometime this summer to argue the motion.

“By bringing the motion they delayed delivery of their statement of defence by a number of months and they of course hoped that they would be successful in striking out the claim,” said Cooper.

The government has been calling it a moratorium but Cooper and Kourtoff say it was a full out cancellation.

Kourtoff has travelled around the world touting the Green Energy Act and its benefits on behalf of the Ontario government. He said issuing a claim against the government was Trillium’s last choice.

“We did everything right and nowhere in the world has anyone thrown a renewable energy leader under the bus. It’s with a heavy heart that we had to go in and do litigation.”

Kourtoff said his preference is still to develop the site.

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