McGuinty government changed Green Energy rules to benefit insiders

McGuinty government changed green energy rules to benefit Liberal-linked firms, court filing charges

Scott Stinson, National Post, June 8, 2014

“The treatment of Mesa in this case is just another episode in a saga of maladministration, scandal, political interference, manipulation and contempt for the rule of law that dominated Ontario until the resignation of the Premier [McGuinty] early in 2013,” a court filing states.

Maladministration, scandal, political interference and contempt for the rule of law: court documents

A U.S. wind power developer that is seeking $653-million in damages under a NAFTA challenge accuses the government of Ontario of manipulating Green Energy Act rules to benefit the interests of Liberal-connected firms, according to court documents obtained by the National Post.

The court filing, recently made public in the case that pits Mesa Power, a Texas-based developer owned by U.S. financier T. Boone Pickens, against the government, alleges Ontario replaced “transparent” criteria for the selection of energy projects with “political favoritism, cronyism and local preference.”

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesU.S. financier T. Boone Pickens

At issue in the NAFTA arbitration are changes made to the Green Energy Act in 2011. They allowed wind developers a brief window in which they could change the location at which their proposed projects would connect to the transmission grid. NextEra, a multinational renewables firm that was represented to the government by lobbyist Bob Lopinksi, a former senior staffer in the office of Dalton McGuinty, changed their connection points and was eventually awarded more than $2-billion worth of power contracts. Mesa Power says in its court filing that the change effectively bumped its projects out of line, costing it sunk costs and lost future profits.

“The rules were changed to suit one applicant to the detriment of another,” the court document claims.

“The rules change was also specifically designed with NextEra in mind,” says the 243-page NAFTA document called the Memorial of the Investor. It was filed last year but released publicly last month. “On a number of occasions,” the document says, “the Minister of Energy’s Office took explicit steps to ensure the process was being executed to the benefit of NextEra.”

“NextEra also gained assistance through the Ontario Premier’s office,” the filing alleges. “The Premier’s office injected itself into the [Feed-in-Tariff] program, and began expressing its political preferences for matters that where entirely within the regulatory realm of the [Ontario Power Authority].

Read the full story and comments here including this excerpt from the documents filed:

“The treatment of Mesa in this case,” the court filing says, “is just another episode in a saga of maladministration, scandal, political interference, manipulation and contempt for the rule of law that dominated Ontario until the resignation of the Premier [McGuinty] early in 2013.”

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