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Bankrupt company ordered to remove Minas Basin tidal turbine

The government issued a strongly worded order Wednesday to a company that is functionally non-existent.

“(Cape Sharp Tidal) is now required to retrieve its turbine in the Minas Basin,” read the Department of Energy and Mines news release announcing the revocation of Cape Sharp Tidal Venture’s marine renewable electricity licence.

“If that does not happen in a reasonable timeframe, government will begin the process of accessing the security that remains in place.”

But Cape Sharp Tidal Ventures exists only in name.

Its parent company Open Hydro Technology Canada Ltd. is bankrupt and Nova Scotia Power parent company Emera walked away from both its 20 per cent ownership stake in Cape Sharp and any responsibility for the 1,300-tonne broken turbine sitting on the floor of the Minas Passage last year.

Questioned by reporters on Wednesday, Department of Energy and Mines Minister Derek Mombourquette said the $1.02 million security posted by Open Hydro Technology Canada Ltd. “would represent a significant piece of what it would cost to remove that turbine.”

But when one of the 16-metre diameter turbines was last removed in 2017 it cost tens of millions of dollars. Open Hydro Technology Canada Ltd.’s creditors still owe over $6 million to Atlantic Canadian marine contractors for last year’s installation of the turbine currently on the floor of the Minas Passage.

Mombourquette said Wednesday that the government would now be marketing the berth occupied by the defunct turbine at the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy to private instream tidal developers.

The removal of the turbine would be costed into any agreement reached with a new potential birth holder.

“There is an inherent amount of risk both financially and safety-wise with these operations,” said Mary McPhee, former facility manager at the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy.

“I would question why anyone would think one company would take on the cost and risk of removing someone else’s mess any more than I would assume the taxpayers would want to clean up the mess of another.”

Open Hydro didn’t seek an extension of creditor protection last month and so its creditors are now allowed to seek the sale of the $30-million barge built to install and remove the turbines.

Mombourquette said the province is looking at all “mechanical” options for the turbine’s removal.

McPhee called the step toward seizing the bond as a “positive sign.”

“I think all along myself and other people who have concerns just wanted to see some accountability,” said McPhee.

“It’s nice to see them taking some responsibility that they are regulator of this industry. It’s also nice to see DFO has stepped up its reach as a regulator. I think a federal party like DFO shows a great amount of growth in the skill base for regulating this industry.”

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