Canada: Ontario’s Government Changes, Offshore Wind Cancellation Still in Effect

Canada: Ontario’s Government Changes, Offshore Wind Cancellation Still in Effect

It has been two years since the Government of Ontario announced that it is imposing a cancellation/moratorium on offshore wind, saying that it needed time to perform more scientific studies on the effects of offshore wind turbines on health and environment.

This decision affected Trillium Power the most, as the company had plans for four offshore wind farms when the cancellation, publicly presented as a second moratorium, was placed.

Three studies undertaken

In May 2011, Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) had created a report, which was quietly released on the MNR’s public website in February 2013, providing a brief synopsis of the global level of understanding of the impacts offshore wind turbine foundations have on the physical marine environment. The second part of the report provides a framework for what should be undertaken in a coastal engineering study to best determine those impacts and establish baseline conditions for comparison with future monitoring, specific to the Great Lakes example.

In July of the same year, the Ministry created two additional reports (again released in February 2013) regarding offshore wind impact on fish: The Potential Effects of Offshore Wind Power Projects on Fish and Fish Habitat in the Great Lakes and Offshore wind power projects in the Great Lakes: Background information and science considerations for fish and fish habitat.

One report concluded that, “Ultimately, however, the greatest and most valuable knowledge would be gained through focused research and monitoring at commercial-scale demonstration projects throughout the construction phase and over the long-term during operation. Looking ahead, collaboration between government, industry and academic partners to plan and initiate this type of project would be highly valuable.”

So far, the moratorium is still in force and no final results of the research have been issued.

“We still need to gather more information on the potential effects of offshore wind development and possible mitigation measures for development in freshwater environments,” the Ministry told the Toronto Star in a statement. It added that the published reports are not government policy.

The Trillium Power case

At the time, Trillium Power was well advanced in the development of 4 projects located between 10 and 120 km offshore in The Great Lakes. Trillium Power Wind 1 site had completed 104 studies, reports and undertook  Renewable Energy Approval permitting actions at the time of the Ontario Government’s action.

The company was scheduled to close a $26 million financing tranche for a 420 MW project on Lake Ontario at 3pm on the same day that the Government of Ontario placed the cancellation, presented publicly as a moratorium, on offshore wind (February 11, 2011). Trillium Power had provided a courtesy notice of the financial closing to the then Premier’s (Dalton McGuinty) office and then Energy Minister’s (Brad Duguid) office on Wednesday, February 9 and Thursday, February 10, respectively.

After attempting to contact Premier McGuinty’s government over a period of many months after the action of February 2011, and providing legal notice in late May 2011, Trillium Power took legal action in late September 2011 to claim $2.25 billion compensation from the Ontario province, but the damage claim was initially dismissed in a technical Motion heard by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. The company then filed an appeal against this decision with the Ontario Court of Appeal.

It has been brought to’s attention that there could be some inconsistencies relating to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Siemens Canada Limited and the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of the Government of Ontario, signed on May 20, 2011.

CEO of Trillium Power, John Kourtoff, brought these irregularities in the MoU to the attention of

Mr. Kourtoff said that the MoU shows that Ontario’s moratorium on offshore wind was not a Core Policy action, as the MoU was signed 3 months after the moratorium was imposed.

Furthermore, the MoU says: “Ontario agrees to engage in ongoing consultation and dialogue with Siemens regarding the potential for these and other major economic development initiatives that Siemens may consider. Possible areas for consideration include, but are not limited to, smart grid, electric vehicles, wind (including blades, turbines and off-shore), solar (inverters, balance of plant), water (wastewater treatment, drinking water), energy efficiency and conservation.”

The spelling variation of the word offshore, which is written as off-shore here, concerns Mr. Kourtoff, who indicated that this again shows that the action against offshore wind, which cancelled Trillium Power’s sites, was not a Core Policy change as it would not have been firmly included in the Ontario Government’s MoU with Siemens.

New Government arrives, new hopes arise

Recently, Ms. Kathleen Wynne became the Premier of Ontario, replacing Mr. Dalton McGuinty.

Maybe there could be some lucky coincidence in the dates, as Premier Wynne and her new cabinet team were sworn-in on February 11, 2013 at Queen’s Park.

“I think Kathleen Wynne brings a change and a breath of fresh air,” Mr. Kourtoff is cited by the Toronto Star as saying. He has continuously expressed the hope that the change of direction by the new Ontario government opens a path for discussion.

Robert Hornung, who heads the Canadian Wind Energy Association, is also cited by the Toronto Star as saying that, Ontario will review its long term energy plan this year and offshore wind may be included in the review.


Offshore WIND Staff, May 21, 2013; Image: Trillium Power