Trillium wins another day in court

The Ontario Court of Appeal has overturned a ruling that threw out Trillium Power’s lawsuit seeking C$2.25bn ($2.15bn) in damages from the provincial government for its February 2011 decision to freeze offshore wind development in the Great Lakes.

A lower court in October 2012 ruled in favor of the government’s motion to dismiss the suit in which Trillium alleges “misfeasance in public office” by the ministries named in the action.

Among the offshore projects canceled and confiscated by the government was Trillium’s proposed TPW 1 wind farm that would have been located 17km to 28km from shore in Lake Ontario. The 420MW to 600MW project did not have a feed-in tariff contract. Trillium says it also had several other projects in the planning stages.

Trillium Power alleges that it had been specifically targeted by the 11 February 2011 press release that the government issued the same afternoon as Trillium Power was receiving a C$26m tranche of its TPW 1 project financing deal.

The ruling Liberals said the moratorium was necessary to allow additional research into the environmental effects of placing turbines and support infrastructure in fresh water. Ontario borders four of the five Great Lakes – Erie, Huron, Ontario and Superior.

Offshore developers claim the Liberals based the move on politics in an election year, when former premier Dalton McGuinty was losing support in shoreline communities and certain rural districts where anti-wind sentiment runs strong.

They also accuse the Liberals of favoritism towards certain other investors such as Samsung, which received generous subsidies and grid access as part of a massive C$7bn renewable energy deal in 2010.

McGuinty won a third term, but his share of the vote declined and he formed a minority government. He resigned in February.

"Trillium Power appreciates today's decision by the Court. We now have an opportunity to go forward and present our evidence and air the facts regarding the improper actions that were taken against us by the previous government,” says Trillium chief executive John Kourtoff.

He says that the developer wants to work with the new Ontario government of Premier Kathleen Wynne to develop Ontario’s offshore wind potential.

“We have always held that litigation was our last choice after trying everything else. We remain open to working in cooperation with the new premier … and her ministers to remedy this unfortunate situation that they inherited,” he adds.