Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia writes off $48M investment in failed wind tower plant

Nova Scotia closed the books on a failed wind tower manufacturing plant Tuesday with an announcement the provincial government had written off $48 million in loans and investments to DSME Trenton.

Nova Scotia spent millions on DSME Trenton, but promised jobs never materialized

The Nova Scotia government gave DSME Trenton $19.6 million for a 49 per cent stake in the company in 2010. (CBC)

Nova Scotia closed the books on a failed wind tower manufacturing plant Tuesday with an announcement the provincial government had written off $48 million in loans and investments to DSME Trenton.

The loss made up the bulk of the $65.5 million of writeoffs disclosed by the province for 2019-20.

In 2010, the then-NDP government pumped $56 million into the facility, which was located at an old rail car plant in Trenton, N.S.

The project was led by South Korean shipbuilding giant Daewoo and the funding was marked by a grand announcement attended by provincial and federal politicians and executives from Seoul.

The Nova Scotia government owned 49 per cent of the business and Daewoo owned 51 per cent.

But sales never materialized, nor did the promised 500 jobs, and in early 2016 the province called its loan and put the company into receivership.

"This concludes the DSME Trenton's legacy loans and investments under the Jobs Fund," said Department of Business spokesperson Tracy Barron in an emailed response to CBC News.

"Receivership proceeds were applied to the outstanding balance, leaving a shortfall of $48,429,870 out of the total owing of $56.3 million."

The business model was built on supplying other jurisdictions with wind towers assembled at Trenton.

Those plans were dealt a serious blow when Ontario required wind towers to be manufactured inside the province.

Efforts to diversify business at DSTN fell flat and the company filed for receivership in 2016. (CBC)

DSME even suggested a return to rail car manufacturing or other steel fabrication.

By the time it went under, the plant had no customer orders and was operating in maintenance mode with 19 active employees.

It cost about $150,000 per month just to keep the facility fit for sale.

After two years and no takers, Nova Scotia ended efforts to sell the Pictou County plant and turned the property over to its real estate arm for disposal.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paul Withers

Reporter

Paul Withers is an award-winning journalist whose career started in the 1970s as a cartoonist. He has been covering Nova Scotia politics for more than 20 years.

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