The developer of a proposed off-shore wind farm has re-filed a lawsuit against the Ontario government, seeking $500 million in damages for “malfeasance in public office.”
Trillium Power Wind Corp. was planning a wind farm of up to 600 megawatts in Lake Ontario near Kingston
But the project stalled when the Liberal government announced in February, 2011, that it was placing a moratorium on off-shore wind farms.
The moratorium, which the government said is needed to conduct further research on the impact of off-shore developments, remains in effect.
In its action, filed Friday, Trillium says the province deliberately targeted the company, which was on the verge of signing a financing deal for the project when the moratorium was imposed.
Trillium’s claims have not been proven in court.
The new filing is Trillium’s second round in its fight with the province. It had filed an earlier claim for $2.25 billion.
A judge initially threw out the case before it went to trial. Ontario Court of Appeal then re-instated it, but narrowed the grounds that Trillium is allowed to argue.
The appeal court ruled that Trillium most establish the existence of “deliberate unlawful conduct by a public officer in the exercise of a public function” as well as “awareness that the conduct is unlawful and likely to injure the plaintiff.”
In its statement of claim, Trillium says it had been working on its off-shore project for more than a decade, with the knowledge of several provincial ministries. It first applied to the province in 2004 to use its proposed site near Main Duck Island.
On Feb. 9, 2011, Trillium says it informed the premier’s office that it was set to close “a significant financial investment” for the project by the end of the day on Feb. 11.
At 2 p.m. on Feb. 11, the province announced the moratorium on all off-shore wind projects – a moratorium that Trillium says effectively killed its project.
The province said more research is needed to study the impact of off-shore wind projects.
The timing of the moratorium, Trillium says “was done in bad faith…with the intent to target Trillium Power.”
Trillium also argues that the moratorium had “nothing whatsoever to do with any core policy decision-making.”
Its filing notes that in May, 2011 – three months after the moratorium – the province signed a memorandum of understanding with Siemens Canada Ltd. on creating centres of excellence for renewable energy, “including off-shore wind development in Ontario.”
That is evidence that the moratorium was “intended and designed to specifically target and harm Trillium Power,” the company argues.
It says the province’s actions amounted to “deliberate unlawful conduct by public officers in the exercise of a public function.”
John Kourtoff, chief executive of Trillium, said in an interview that he has offered to negotiate a settlement with the province “but there was no interest.”
A spokesman for the energy ministry declined comment because the matter is before the courts.
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