Sprinkle a lengthy Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT) in here, a little expropriation related litigation there.
That’s the recipe that will see Dufferin Wind Power Inc. fail to meet the expectations found within its Feed-in Tariff (FIT) contract with the Ontario Power Authority (OPA).
The Chinese-owned wind development company, which has received provincial approval to build a 99 MW wind farm in Melancthon and a 230 kV transmission line to Amaranth, is required to supply hydro to the grid by Jan. 30, 2014.
The 49-turbine project isn’t going to be up and running by then, according to Dufferin Wind spokesperson Connie Roberts.
“Dufferin Wind Power is anticipating this delivery date will not be met,” she said in an email, noting delays have thrown a wrench in the company’s projected timelines.
Dufferin Wind is currently locked in an ongoing ERT hearing, defending claims its project would be detrimental to human health and that the province’s Renewable Energy Approval (REA) process has violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The ERT can confirm, revoke or alter the Ministry of the Environment’s (MOE) approval of Dufferin Wind’s project.
Roberts said Dufferin Wind officials don’t expect a decision until late December.
Meanwhile, the county is seeking intervener status at the upcoming expropriation hearings triggered by Dufferin Wind earlier this year.
Dufferin Wind has asked the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) to expropriate an easement for its transmission line along the county’s abandoned rail corridor. It also seeks to expropriate land from several private property owners in both Amaranth and Melancthon.
“We believe the (expropriation) process shouldn’t proceed until such time the ERT hearing that is going on in Shelburne is done,” said Dufferin County CAO Sonya Pritchard.
County officials want Dufferin Wind to bury the transmission line the whole way, while the company has agreed to bury it through Shelburne.
Additionally, Pritchard noted the citizen’s group, Conserving our Rural Environment (CORE), has appealed the OEB’s decision to grant Dufferin Wind permission to construct its transmission line. That case won’t be heard in divisional court until late November, she said.
“We wish to participate in the (expropriation) proceedings,” Pritchard said. “We don’t think they should happen until after these things are finished.”
While it may be too early to talk about Dufferin Wind’s contract expiring – generally, the OPA gives wind farm developers about 18 months after missing their start-up deadline to get onto the grid – it could put a dent in the wind farm developer’s pocketbook.
If a FIT contract holder fails to meet its deadline, it would be responsible to pay a penalty, according to OPA spokesperson Mary Bernard. The amount owed in liquidated damages would depend on the length of the delay.
“Liquidated damages are determined by the OPA and are subject to multiple factors that cannot be determined at this time,” Roberts added. “Dufferin Wind will honour its contractual commitments in this event.”
Then again, contract holders sometimes run into challenges developing their project that aren’t under their control, Bernard said. In this case, she said the developer could request an extension.
Weather complications may cause even more construction delays, Roberts added. Arguing project interruptions are “outside of the control of DWPI,” Roberts said Dufferin Wind might consider requesting the OPA for an extension.
“The OPA would then look at the evidence provided to determine if the claim will be granted,” Bernard said. “If it is, an amendment would be made to the contract that would extend the deadline.”
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