Windstream Energy LLC has been awarded C$28 million in damages and costs for what it says was “inequitable treatment” by the government of Ontario.
Windstream says an arbitral tribunal appointed under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) found that Ontario treated Windstream’s investments in Canada “unfairly and inequitably” under NAFTA after the province placed a moratorium on offshore wind farms in 2011.
The company says this moratorium directly frustrated its C$5.2 billion contract for a 300 MW offshore wind power project signed with the Ontario Power Authority. Windstream is the sole owner of the Windstream Wolfe Island Shoals Wind Energy Project in eastern Lake Ontario.
According to Windstream, the tribunal ruled that the government of Ontario “on the whole did relatively little to address the scientific uncertainty surrounding offshore wind that it relied upon as the main publicly cited reason for the moratorium.” Further, it “did little to address the legal and contractual limbo in which Windstream found itself after the imposition of the moratorium.”
The tribunal awarded Windstream damages of C$25,182,900 and C$2,912,432 in legal costs – the largest ever NAFTA damages and cost award against Canada, according to Windstream.
The tribunal declared that the project contract is formally “in force” and has not been unilaterally terminated by the government of Ontario.
“Windstream responded to the Ontario government’s call for renewable power and jobs and entered into a contract with the Ontario government in good faith in August 2010,” said David Mars, director of Windstream Energy LLC. “This award is an appropriate first step at remedying the challenges we have faced. We look forward to working with the government of Ontario to build this project in accordance with the contract.”