Wind Concerns Ontario wrote to the Ontario Minister of Energy, Bob Chiarelli, today, to express concern about remarks he made which appeared in the Toronto Star. It would be “irresponsible” to cancel agreements with renewable energy developers he said, adding that it was in fact “illegal.”
This is not correct.
WCO referred the Minister to the case of Trillium vs Ontario in which the court determined that it is the government’s prerogative to alter policy and change contracts for a variety of reasons, including matters of the public interest. Further, an opinion prepared by Osler Hoskin and Harcourt advises that companies involved in government programs such as the Feed In tariff “do so at their own risk” because of the fact that the government may change policy.
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March 4, 2014 IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ENERGY MINISTER CAN CANCEL WIND POWER CONTRACTS
Despite statements made to the media by Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli that it would be “illegal” to cancel Feed In Tariff contracts with wind power developers, court documents show that the opposite is true, Wind Concerns Ontario states in a letter to the Minister today.
“The decision in Trillium vs. Ontario, 2013, clearly states that governments are free to alter policies in the public interest,” says Jane Wilson, WCO president. “As well, a legal opinion from Osler Hoskins Harcourt advises that companies in the renewable power business participate in government subsidy programs ‘at their own risk.’ That means, Mr. Chiarelli and his government could cancel these multi-million-dollar contracts if they want to.”
At present, Ontario has 55 wind power projects in various stages of approval; if all are approved the costs to Ontario could be more than $1 billion a year or $22 billion over the 20-year life of the contracts.
“Mr. Chiarelli said in the Legislature that Ontario has a surplus of power,” Wilson says. “The question for Ontario now is, why not cancel these contracts for power we don’t need and can’t afford? Does he answer to Ontarians, or the wind power lobby?”