All governments at every level waste money. It’s one of the things that governments do far better than the private sector. Yet the Ontario provincial government takes wasting money to a state of near perfection in their Wolfe Island offshore wind farm dealings:
A few years ago, I took this photo of some of the onshore wind turbines on Wolfe Island. I don’t have any photos of the offshore installations, because they haven’t been built.
In 2010, the government of Ontario, keen to jumpstart its green energy sector, signed a 20-year deal to buy 300 megawatts of electricity from turbines that the New York investors behind Windstream agreed to erect.
Things got messy mere months later in February 2011 when the provincial Liberals, fearing they would lose an election, slapped a moratorium on offshore wind projects, none of which had ever been built. Around the same time, Ontario cancelled two unpopular natural gas power plants, a move that cost provincial taxpayers about $1 billion.
After waiting five years to get approval to build their wind turbines, Mars and his group lost their patience.
“I have a group of very high-net-worth individuals who invest across energy and technology,” Mars said in a series of interviews from his office in Manhattan. “The contract remains in force. We would like to either build it or come up with an amicable solution. We have gotten many mixed messages on this.”
They complained to the Permanent Court of Arbitration under Chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement. A panel of three arbitrators heard the case in Toronto last February.
“The claimant’s claim that the respondent has failed to accord the claimant’s investments fair and equitable treatment in accordance with international law, contrary to Article 1105 of NAFTA, is granted,” the panel ruled last month.
Police are now apparently probing whether Ontario government employees broke the law when they deleted documents related to the offshore wind project. A source told the Financial Post that Mars will answer police questions in Toronto next week.
So, a billion dollars to cancel two natural gas power plants, then a paltry $28 million that the federal has to pay, as it’s the NAFTA signatory (and the total bill could go up to $568 million or more, with nothing actually being built). As the old saying has it, pretty soon you’re talking real money.
H/T to Ken Mcgregor for the link.