Global renewables giant EDPR may sue the Canadian province of Ontario after its government withdrew consent for an almost-completed 100MW wind farm.
The Portugal-based group said it was “wholly perplexed” by the decision to revoke approval for the Nation Rise wind farm 40km southeast of Ottawa, a decision apparently prompted by protests over impacts on bat populations.
Many of the project’s 29 Enercon 3.44MW turbines are already installed at the site where construction began in May, said a strongly-worded statement from EDPR, which has stopped construction but vowed to “pursue all legal courses of action in response”.
The developer claimed the decision by Ontario’s environment minister overturns expert findings and earlier ratification by the province’s own Environmental Review Tribunal.
“Decisions of this nature should be based on science and law, yet there was no expert testimony or evidence presented at the tribunal or to the minister that would provide a reasonable rationale for the minister’s decision,” it said.
Canadian wind power body CanWEA said the province’s decision to cancel Nation Rise was “shocking and unprecedented and [contributed to] dramatically reduce the confidence of the electricity industry and its investors in the Ontario market”.
“The decision of the Minister to revoke his own Director’s Renewable Energy Approval, and to overturn the decision of the Environmental Review Tribunal , is disturbing considering the due diligence and rigorous processes that were followed according to the scientific and technical framework set out under the Renewable Energy Approvals process in Ontario,” said CanWEA CEO Robert Hornung.
“Ontario has long been considered an attractive place for businesses to invest because of its rules-based economy and low investor risk. Maintaining investor confidence is important for Ontario’s short- and long-term economic prosperity and a decline in investor confidence will add costs.
“This decision does little to signal to investors that Ontario is ‘Open for Business’.”
Hornung added that Nation Rise represents “a significant investment for the local and provincial economy”, noting that wind energy projects in Ontario have so far contributed to “billions of dollars of investment and job creation”.
“Looking ahead, Ontario will have a need for new electricity generation in the 2020s. Ontario’s future electricity grid will need to be reliable and cost-competitive while also promoting economic development and protecting the environment,” he said.
“No other source of potential new electricity generation in Ontario can better meet these multiple priorities than wind energy [but] securing such investment at the lowest cost for Ontarians will require a more positive and stable investment climate.”
Nation Rise is one of the last projects to get under the wire of Ontario’s Large Renewable Procurement scheme, which was cancelled by Conservative premier Doug Ford as soon as he took office in 2018.
Ford, a renewables sceptic, caused outrage among developers then when he annulled more than 750 early-stage wind and solar projects.
EDPR said it “fully trusts the Canadian justice system as a means of positioning EDPR to resume the construction activities at Nation Rise Wind Farm”.
· Adds quotes from CanWEA CEO Robert Hornung