NAFTA - Chapter 11 - Investment

Cases Filed Against the Government of Canada

Windstream Energy LLC v. Government of Canada


Windstream Energy LLC (“Windstream”) is a U.S. company that, through its Canadian subsidiary, Windstream Wolfe Island Shoals (“WWIS”), applied to the Ontario Feed-in-Tariff (“FIT”) Program for a contract to develop an offshore wind energy facility. Windstream alleges that the Government of Ontario’s February 2011 decision to defer offshore wind development wrongfully frustrated its ability to obtain the benefits of the 2010 contract it signed with the Ontario Power Authority (“OPA”).


  • 1102 (National Treatment)
  • 1103 (Most-Favoured Nation Treatment)
  • 1105 (Minimum Standard of Treatment)
  • 1110 (Expropriation)

Damages claimed

$475 million CAD.

Arbitration Rules



Procedural history

On October 17, 2012, Windstream served a Notice of Intent to Submit a Claim to Arbitration on the Government of Canada. On January 28, 2013 it served a Notice of Arbitration where it alleged that Canada violated its obligations under the NAFTA, resulting in approximately CAD$475 million in damages to their investment.

The parties exchanged written pleadings and the Tribunal held a hearing on jurisdiction, merits, and damages in Toronto, Ontario, from February 15-26, 2016.

Factual overview and nature of the claim

In November 2009, Windstream submitted eleven FIT applications for wind power projects, including an application for a 300-megawatt, 130-turbine offshore wind project in the Wolfe Island Shoals of Lake Ontario, near Kingston. Having met the basic conditions of a FIT application, the OPA offered it a FIT Contract on May 4, 2010. Windstream did not sign back the contract immediately, but requested a series of extensions throughout the summer while the Government of Ontario undertook a policy review on offshore wind development. The Ontario Ministry of the Environment’s Offshore Wind Policy Notice explained that work on the regulatory framework for offshore wind projects remained incomplete. It noted that the Ministry would be engaging with other ministries to undertake the necessary regulatory work to develop the environmental rules and requirements, and it proposed a five-kilometer shoreline exclusion zone for offshore wind projects.

On August 20, 2010, prior to the finalization of the policy review on offshore wind, Windstream and the OPA signed the FIT Contract, which provided for fixed pricing for power generated over a 20-year period on the condition that WWIS brought its project into commercial operation by May 4, 2015. This included acquiring all of the necessary permits and approvals to develop the project. 

The Ministry of the Environment’s Offshore Wind Policy Review closed on February 11, 2011, when the Government of Ontario decided to defer offshore wind development until the necessary scientific research is completed and an adequately informed policy framework can be developed.

Windstream alleges that the Government of Ontario acted in an expropriatory, arbitrary and discriminatory manner when it deferred offshore wind development, resulting in the loss of its investment. As a result, Windstream alleges that Canada has breached its NAFTA obligations Articles 1102 (National Treatment), 1103 (Most Favoured Nation Treatment), 1105 (Minimum Standard of Treatment), and 1110 (Expropriation). In particular, Windstream asserts that the decision was made in an arbitrary and political manner, with no intention of pursuing the science and developing the regulations required for a regulatory framework for offshore wind projects.


Pending decision.

Legal Documents (all documents are in pdf)

This case is governed by the arbitral rules of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law.  Additional documents related to this case can be viewed at the website of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

Copies of all legal documents posted have been prepared in a language of operation of the Tribunal or Court in question. The Government of Canada has not modified or changed them in any way. As such they have not been translated from the original. They are provided in Acrobat (pdf) files. To view or download pdf files you need Adobe® Acrobat® Reader™ a free software that you can download from the web.

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