Options still open for former N.S. wind tower plant: minister
April 4, 2018 by Keith Doucette The Canadian Press
Apr. 4, 2018 – The deadline for deciding what to do with a former wind tower manufacturing plant developed with $56 million in provincial funding has been extended into May, Nova Scotia’s business minister said.
Geoff MacLellan, who had previously said that a decision needed to be made by March 31, now says maintenance savings realized over the winter means the deadline for the former DSME Trenton plant can be pushed back.
While MacLellan says a sale doesn’t look likely at this point, he also all but ruled out liquidation as an option, saying the massive plant site could eventually become the purview of Crown corporation Nova Scotia Lands for potential development.
“It certainly worked in Sydney with the Tar Ponds site – Open Hearth Park – and we are certainly having some economic generation success within Liverpool and what’s happening there with the former Bowater (mill) site,” said MacLellan. “It’s really been a mix of what the private sector needs in that specific area so that could work.”
MacLellan said the government has “until May or sooner” before it will make a decision on a process that could see the Trenton site turned into green space and or a kind of mini industrial park.
In an email, the department said the receiver has spent about $4 million maintaining the Trenton facility, and that as of March 2 around $370,000 of the former company’s money remains in the account.
The plant closed in February 2016 and was placed in receivership.
Operations wrapped up less than a month after the province said it wouldn’t put any more public money into a plant that had hoped to develop the capacity to produce 250 wind turbine towers and 200 blade sets per year.
The first round of bids for the property was abandoned later in 2016 after the province rejected three, including two of only $1. A second round of bids has also failed to produce a buyer.
“As we get toward that finish line we’ve got to make a decision and it’s looking very much more viable that Nova Scotia Lands will be who we tap to run this project,” MacLellan said.
The previous NDP government announced in 2010 it had taken a 49-per-cent equity stake in the firm, committed up to $59.4 million to the manufacturing plant and predicted 500 jobs would be created within three years.
At the time of the closure, DSME told the province that it couldn’t start payment on $36 million in repayable loans, and the government has said it didn’t know whether there would be an opportunity to recover any of the losses.
The province is the primary secured creditor for the plant.