A court-ruled motion to dismiss claims against the provincial government will postpone plans to build a windmill farm in Lake Ontario near Kingston until further studies are done.
Trillium Power Wind Corporation (TPWC), the Toronto-based corporation behind the proposed plan, is filing a court appeal against the province for a projected $2.25 billion of lost profits resulting from a moratorium imposed last February.
Court proceedings began in August. On Oct. 5, the corporation’s claims against the government were dismissed due to lack of proof.
The wind farm was proposed as an alternative clean energy resource for Ontario residents and was also meant to provide an economic boost for the area through a direct $3 billion in investments and 15,000 new employment opportunities.
In 2004, TPWC obtained a land use permit on Crown land 35 km south of Kingston. A 420 MW off-shore windmill farm was proposed to be developed on the site, making it the first of its kind in the Great Lakes.
Since then, the corporation spent approximately $5 million in development surveys and scientific studies, with a total of 104 studies completed prior to imposing the moratorium, or halt, on the project.
Problems with the government regarding the plan began in 2008 after a moratorium was imposed close to a provincial election, according to John Kourtoff, president and CEO of TPWC.
After the moratorium was lifted, applications for developing the sites were reopened, but TPWC didn’t reapply because of their previous land use permit.
“That did not apply to us … we had land rights and we have tenure and the others don’t so that’s an important part,” Kourtoff said.
He also said the court ruling for a motion to strike in favour of the provincial government was against court policy.
In court, the government argued that TPWC never had exclusive rights to develop the sites to begin with.
Kourtoff also said he thinks both moratoriums imposed last February and in 2008 had political undertones.
“The senior political operator contacted us in August 2007 and said the election is coming up; if you stay offline, we’ll get through this and once we get to the other side, we’ll take off the moratorium,” he said.
Chris Hargreaves, chair of the Kingston Field Naturalist Conservation Committee, said he agrees with the court ruling. He added that he thinks the moratorium is necessary because the project hasn’t yet undergone an external environmental review.
“I think the court ruling is terrific because the lawsuit from Trillium assumes that they would get a contract except for the moratorium, except they haven’t gone through the environmental review,” he said. “Currently, we are gathering data so that when it comes to an environmental review, we can oppose the project strongly.”
The proposed project would see wind turbines installed near important bird migratory routes, he said, adding that he doesn’t think the wind farm would do much to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in Ontario.
“You can’t turn down a coal plant power station and can’t turn down a nuclear power station so what they can turn down is the hydro,” he said. “If that’s all you can do, you’re not actually saving any carbon dioxide emission.”
“So, what we have is this project which is likely to have minimal environmental benefits to the province right in the middle of a major bird migration route,” he added.
City of Kingston officials said they had no comment on the issue because of the project’s location on Crown land.
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