Nova Scotia

N.S. government pulls plug on financially troubled Bay of Fundy turbine project

The province says Cape Sharp Tidal does not have the financial ability to deliver the project, breaching the terms of its renewable electricity licence.

Province has ordered the removal of a massive tidal turbine from the bottom of the Bay of Fundy

A Cape Sharp tidal turbine, pictured in Pictou, N.S., in June 2016. (Cape Sharp Tidal)

The Nova Scotia government has ordered the removal of a massive tidal turbine from the bottom of the Bay of Fundy after revoking the company's licence.

The government says Cape Sharp Tidal does not have the financial ability to deliver the project, breaching the terms of its renewable electricity licence.

Energy Minister Derek Mombourquette said the company is insolvent and Wednesday's announcement allows the province to access a bond that was in place to retrieve the turbine should the company go under.

There's a little more than $1 million in the bond. Mombourquette said it's not enough to cover the entire cost of the work, although it will cover a "significant piece" of the price tag.

"We haven't come to a final number at this point," he told reporters at Province House.

No barge at this point

The Cape Sharp project was among the first to generate electricity from the bay's strong currents, but it was plagued by financial and technological woes.

The turbine was left in the water when OpenHydro Ltd., based in Ireland, filed for liquidation, and Nova Scotia partner Emera Inc. pulled out shortly after.

Further complicating the retrieval process is the fact the only barge in the area capable of doing the work is tied up in the liquidation process. Mombourquette said the government is considering other options to raise the device.

"At this point right now, we don't have a barge."

Seeking other companies

Mombourquette said Wednesday's decision also opens a berth for other companies looking to get in at FORCE, the tidal energy research site near Parrsboro. The minister said marketing will begin for the berth and negotiations with future berth holders would include retrieval of the Cape Sharp turbine.

"We know there is interest there," he said. "I believe that we can find a private sector solution to the problem."

He expected future bonds to cover the cost of retrieval would increase for new berth holders at FORCE to reflect current day costs.

An Irish technical team was called in last year to determine why the turbine's rotor stopped turning. The turbine has been monitored by the Nova Scotia government since last fall.

With files from Michael Gorman

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