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NEWS: US company files for NAFTA arbitration over Lake Ontario wind farm

Wolfe Island, Lake Ontario.

Wolfe Island, Lake Ontario.

The Toronto Star reports, “The owners (US-investor owned Windstream Energy) of a stalled off-shore wind power project (off Wolfe Island) in Lake Ontario have filed for arbitration of their $475 million claim under the North American Free Trade Agreement. …Windstream filed its hefty NAFTA claim in October over its proposed 300-megawatt wind project in eastern Lake Ontario, off Wolfe Island. It had been offered a contract by the Ontario Power Authority in August, 2010. But the project was never built when the Liberals placed a moratorium on all off-shore wind developments in February, 2011 – a moratorium that shows no signs of concluding.”

“Windstream gave notice of its claim in October, and is now moving to the next stage, which is appointment of an arbitration panel. Each side nominates a member of the panel, and they agree on the third member. In is request for arbitration, Windstream describes the offshore wind moratorium as ‘arbitrary, irrational and discriminatory’. …A statement from the ministry of energy said officials are working with the federal government to assess Windstream’s application for arbitration. ‘We will work the federal government to defend this action in the interests of Ontarians,’ it said.”

Ontario does not allow offshore wind turbines closer than five kilometres from the shore. The Ontario ministry of natural resources is conducting research projects to “better understand the potential effects of offshore wind-power development on a range of natural resource values” that may be completed in early-2015.

The Council of Canadians rejects the use of NAFTA investor-state mechanisms for dispute settlement. We support wind power as a sustainable and green energy alternative to the environmental harms associated with fossil fuels and hydroelectric power. That said, 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.

For more, please read:
NEWS: $475 million NAFTA challenge launched over Ontario’s moratorium on offshore wind farms
NEWS: Obama to speed up approval of wind farms on the Great Lakes
NEWS: Ontario government places moratorium on wind power on the Great Lakes