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NEWS: $475 million NAFTA challenge launched over Ontario’s moratorium on offshore wind farms

The Toronto Star reports, “A wind energy company says it wants $475 million in damages because Ontario’s moratorium on offshore wind farms has thwarted its project. Windstream Energy LLC quietly filed a notice last month of its intent to file a claim under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) for lost profit. Windstream wants to develop a 300-megawatt wind project in eastern Lake Ontario, off Wolfe Island. The company says it’s owned by a New York-based investment group. Its Ontario unit, Windstream Energy Inc., is based in Burlington.”

“The Liberal government slapped a moratorium on all offshore projects in February, 2011, saying further study was needed on their impact on health and the environment. It has given no indication when those studies might be completed.”

“The government’s actions have frustrated its ability to develop the project, according to the notice. Windstream claims that the moratorium violates NAFTA. (Formally the complaint is filed against the federal government, which is held responsible under the treaty for the actions of provinces.) The treaty prevents expropriating the investments of U.S. investors in Canada, unless it’s done for a public purpose, with due process and the investor is paid fair market value in compensation, Windstream says. The moratorium, it argues, has effectively deprived Windstream of the value of its project, and that amounts to expropriation. …The province has made no effort to relocate the Wolfe Island project, the notice says. Windshare says it has proposed relocating the project on-shore, or converting it to solar power, but both ideas have been rejected.”

The news article is at http://www.thestar.com/business/article/1292225–wind-farm-files-475-million-nafta-claim-over-ontario-offshore-moratorium.

Three Council of Canadians campaign blogs on this situation can be read beginning at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=14382. We have stated that we support wind power as a sustainable and green energy alternative to the environmental harms associated with fossil fuels and hydroelectric power. We also recognize that there can be environmental implications that need to be fully considered and addressed before proceeding with any major project and that there are implications of private power generation situated in the Great Lakes commons.