Ontario puts moratorium on offshore wind projects

Fri Feb 11, 2011 6:12pm EST
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By Susan Taylor

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian province of Ontario said on Friday it will not approve any offshore wind projects and will not accept new applications until there is further scientific research on the industry.

The province, which offers North America's most comprehensive and lucrative rates for power from the sun, wind, water and biomass, will terminate one contract with Windstream Energy for a 300 megawatt offshore wind project near Kingston, in Lake Ontario.

Four other applications will be terminated, a government spokeswoman said, and application securities returned to the developers.

The moratorium will have no effect on applications for wind projects on land. More than 700 wind turbines on land currently produce about 1,500 MW of electricity.

"Offshore wind on freshwater lakes is a recent concept that requires a cautious approach until the science of environmental impact is clear. In contrast, the science concerning land-based wind is extensive," John Wilkinson, Ontario's minister of the environment, said in a statement.

Ontario put a similar moratorium on offshore wind projects in 2006, saying the potential environmental impact of such projects needed more study. It lifted the ban in early 2008, saying it had to take steps to ensure decisions were based on the best available information.

The Canadian Wind Energy Association said it is disappointed with the decision and wants details on how long the government plans to study the issue.

"This is an unfortunate decision that surrenders the province's leadership role in exploring the potential for offshore wind energy in the Great Lakes and creates significant uncertainty for investors," association president Robert Hornung said.   Continued...