Canadian pension fund buys stake in huge offshore wind power

From the Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal

Canada Fund Buys Stake in U.K. Wind Farm for $1.06B

By Ben Dummett 

TORONTO–Canadian pension giant Caisse de Depot et placement du Quebec Friday said it acquired a stake in a big U.K. offshore wind farm from Danish energy company DONG Energy A/S for 644 million pounds ($1.06 billion).
The investment underscores Canadian pension funds’ continued interest in global infrastructure assets such as toll roads, bridges and utility operators, which generate steady income to help the funds meet their long-term pension liabilities. Quebec-based Caisse de Depot is Canada’s second-largest pension fund as measured by assets.
The transaction comes on the same day two other Canadian pension funds announced infrastructure deals. Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System bought a stake in Ontario’s Bruce Power nuclear plant from Canadian uranium producer Cameco Corp. for 450 million Canadian dollars ($403 million), increasing its stake in the power generator to 56.1%. Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, the country’s biggest pension fund, invested $200 million for a 10.4% stake in Transportadora de Gas del Perú S.A., Peru’s largest natural gas pipeline operator.
Caisse de Depot is acquiring half of DONG Energy’s 50% stake in the 630-megawatt London Array 1 offshore wind farm, which London Array says is the largest of its kind in the world. The Array project’s 175 turbines are capable of generating energy to power almost 500,000 U.K. homes, according to London Array’s website.
Caisse de Depot, which oversees almost C$186 billion in assets, is betting that growing global pressure to reduce harmful carbon emissions will drive demand for wind energy and other alternative energy sources.
The deal “is an opportunity for us to invest…in a growth-driven sector, ” Macky Tall, head of infrastructure investment for the fund, said in a statement. “We are investing in this project with a long-term horizon,” he said.

North Carolina wind power project halted; citizens claim a successful campaign

See also, comments from John Droz Jr, below
Carteret County News-Times

North Carolina:Torch Energy abandons wind-solar proposal 

Posted: Friday, January 31, 2014 6:37 pm | Updated: 7:28 pm, Fri Jan 31, 2014.
JACKIE STARKEY | 2 comments

(updated with comments from County Manager Russell Overman)
MOREHEAD CITY — Torch Renewable Energy LLC, the Houston-based alternative energy giant, announced Friday it will abandon plans to develop a hybrid wind and solar facility near Mill Pond outside Newport.

“In light of the unlikely prospect of acquiring a variance from the county’s current tall structures ordinance, we have decided not to move forward with the project,” Torch Energy’s vice president of development Rocky Ray said in a prepared release.
The project – which proposed 40 turbines and an array of solar panels in an area in Newport’s extraterritorial jurisdiction – has caused public outcry over the safety, efficiency, economic and military impacts the facility could have on the area.
County commissioners held a public hearing Jan. 2 at the Crystal Coast Civic Center, enacting a moratorium on permitting for wind turbine structures and stalling the proposal in an effort to further investigate repercussions of wind facilities.
“All I can say is that the current ordinance in place had to have factored into their decision,” said Chairman Jonathan Robinson of the announcement. “I’m sure that and the climate and the controversy that surrounded this proposal led to their decision (to terminate).”
Mr. Robinson said he felt the board acted in due diligence imposing the moratorium and would continue to look at the ordinance, despite the project retraction from Torch.
The variances necessary for the project, cited by Torch in the release, are likely alterations to the ordinance’s 3,300-foot setback requirement, said County Manager Russell Overman.

The proposed project would require smaller setbacks to the perimeter to facilitate placement of all 40 of the structures, according to information gleaned by county officials. Mr. Overman said the county was given notice of the dropped proposal Friday afternoon. 
Torch Renewable, though in communication with county officials, never submitted an application for permitting of any kind in Carteret County regarding the turbines. An application is on file with the N.C. Utilities Commission. 

Several prominent locals have spoken out against the proposal, including Commissioner Robin Comer and Rep. Pat McElraft, R-Carteret.
Additionally, Congressman Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., announced Friday ongoing concerns on the impact turbines would have on National Weather Service radars in the area.
Torch said earlier this month the company was already in mitigation with officials out of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point to remedy possible turbine interference with airspace.
“The state of North Carolina and the Department of the Navy have very rigorous processes in place to ensure that no wind farm in any way jeopardizes military activities,” Mr. Ray said in the release. “We were looking forward to working through those processes to bring renewable energy to the region.”
Mr. Robinson said the board will fine tune the ordinance and would be open to other alternative energy proposals, given they do not interfere with Cherry Point.
“Our first duty is to safeguard the public and the health of the citizenry. We’re married to Cherry Point here, so the height of the turbines was a main concern for us,” he said.
The proposal was for 500-foot-tall turbines.
Supporters of the clean energy project told the board earlier this month that such projects could bring industry and new possibilities to the Crystal Coast.
North Carolina’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard calls for 12.5 percent of the state’s energy to be provided by alternative means by 2021.
Torch could not be reached for further comment at this time.

Activist John Droz, has the following comments on the Torch withdrawal, and on the efforts of his community to halt the wind power project. While not all the things they did would be possible in Ontario, where the Green Energy Act has completely removed local land use planning powers, the organization’s checklist of demands for the wind power developers are very useful.

This coordinated effort was too much for the developer, and last night they officially threw in the towel. (Here is a newspaper article.)…  It took just 3± months of a focused campaign to win.
This came about because of two fundamental reasons:
1 – the developer realized that the involved communities would impose quality protections for citizens, businesses, the environment and the military, and
2 – the developer saw that there was very strong community (and thus legislative) support for those protections.
The protections (and the words for them), are spelled out in AWED’s model wind ordinance:
— 1 mile setbacks to property lines,
— 35 dBA turbine sound limits, at property lines, 24/7,
— a simple but powerful Property Value Guarantee,
— community controlled environmental tests,
— proper decommissioning funds and conditions, and
— an escrow account to pay for town expenses, maintained at $50k for the life of the project.
Probably the greatest frustration in my 35± years of environmental/energy work, is that when faced with such intrusions, that almost every community worldwide seems to basically try to reinvent the wheel.
I’m passing this on to you because I hope you can profit from our experiences. This was a community victory, and a superior example of what can be done elsewhere, when citizens work together in a constructive, productive way.
Consider this final thought: NC passed an RPS in 2007 mandating renewable (wind) energy. A half dozen major wind projects have been proposed since then. We have aggressively fought each of these, using AWED methodology — with no money. As of today there is not a single industrial wind turbine in the entire state.
Draw your own conclusions. See MUCH more at
john droz, jr.
physicist & environmental advocate
Morehead City, NC

Ostrander Point appeal:the MoE will go to any lengths to aid wind power

Here from Rick Conroy of the independent Wellington Times, his wrap of the appeal of the Environmental Review Tribunal decision to rescind approval of a wind power project on Ostrander Point.

The Times

To harm, harass and kill


Appeal hearing considers who shall condemn endangered species in the name of green energy
By the time Heather Gibbs and Robert Wright concluded that the risk, posed by a proposed industrial wind project at Ostrander Point upon the Blanding’s turtle, was simply too great, and the damage likely permanent, the Environmental Review Tribunal (ERT or Tribunal) panel had heard more than 40 days of testimony. More than 188 exhibits had been entered into evidence. Their decision ran 140 pages.
That decision, to revoke the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) granted to Gilead Power by the Ministry of Environment (MOE), rocked the wind energy sector in this country. It sent government bureaucrats scurrying for cover.
If the fate of a turtle could block the development of an industrial wind project—the precedent could be a formidable roadblock to similar projects across the province and Canada. There are other turtles and endangered species that deserve the protection this panel afforded the Blanding’s turtle of Ostrander Point. The implications are profound.
Wright and Gibbs must have known their words, their actions, and their decision would be attacked, pulled apart and recast as naïve or simply mistaken.
An appeal to the Ontario Superior Court was the only door left open to the developer, Gilead Power Corporation, the wind energy lobby and their large team of lawyers.
So it was that the latest battle, played out in a courtroom over three days last week at Osgoode Hall in Toronto, was fought over what Wright and Gibbs said. What they wrote. What they did. And what they didn’t do.
Did Wright and Gibbs make an error in law? Or procedure? This was the narrow lens with which the three justices—Maria Linhares de Sousa, Ian Nordheimer and Kevin Whitaker—heard arguments in courtroom number three last week.
Even before the appeal began, the developer’s attorneys attempted to change the ground rules by urging the justices to hear new evidence. The talented and able lawyers from McCarthy Tetrault argued that their client, in the intervening months since the Wright and Gibbs had delivered their decision, had undertaken steps it believed would address the Tribunal’s concerns.
Their argument failed to persuade the appeal court. The justices refused to widen its scope beyond whether or not the Tribunal had conducted themselves correctly and in accordance with the rules by which they are governed.
Courtroom 3 is located on the west side of the ornate and grandly decorated centre square of Osgoode Hall. Ceilings soar to about 40 feet. The length and width are only a few feet greater—forming a giant cube. The three justices, cloaked in floor-length robes are perched upon a raised platform before a thick hewnwood bench. The only marker of the current century is the laptop computer each judge keeps before them—though scarcely used.
Arrayed below them are rows of lawyers. Eric Gillespie and Nathalie Smith argued the bulk of the appeal for the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists (PECFN) and the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC).

Read the full article here.