The following is a preview of an article that will appear in various media outlets. This is a small part of our strategy to stop these projects in our Townships.
Addington Highlands, ON-
Despite NextEra Energy Inc.’s claims that they have not violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in their efforts to entice municipal leaders in Ontario to aide their new business development activities, email correspondence released under Freedom of Information requests, and quotes from NextEra officials to local media, suggest otherwise.
“It is hard to review NextEra’s conduct in Addington Highlands and North Frontenac and not conclude that they intended to use funds to improperly influence officials into helping them secure new business, something that is prohibited by the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.” Said John Laforet, Principal of Broadview Strategy Group, on behalf of Bon Echo Area Residents Against Turbines (BEARAT). “In an email to municipal officials, NextEra point blank ties the funds to the support resolution and alludes to consequences for Addington Highlands of not getting on board.”
Ben Greenhouse, an executive with NextEra Energy Canada was quoted in the Frontenac News confirming cash was conditional on municipal support in helping NextEra win new business – something the FCPA prohibits.
“When we calculate our bid, the value of municipal support is weighed in, and if we don't have that, our calculations change. If we win the contract without municipal support, we can come back to council and talk about a different vibrancy fund, but for now it is contingent on the motion of support.”
A second article in the Frontenac News adds additional clarity regarding NextEra’s use of funds to entice municipal officials:
“NextEra is offering both municipalities a “community vibrancy fund”, if the townships provide them with a signed letter of support that they can submit with their proposal to the IESO.”
A third article again highlights NextEra’s conditions on cash for support stating,
“The company had offered a sweetener for municipal support for the project, in the form of a community vibrancy fund that would have been worth as much as $200,000 per year for 20 years, in addition to a projected increase in tax revenue of more than $100,000 per year. The money was available under two conditions: the township needed to pass a motion supporting the project; and NextEra’s bid for the project needs to be a winner in the procurement process that has been set out by Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO).”
While Community Vibrancy Funds are common with renewable energy projects in Ontario, in these cases, funds were being offered with condition of a support resolution from Council that would materially benefit the wind developer. The Green Energy Act allows the Province to install turbines in Communities who are opposed to them, so Council knows that their support, or non-support, would have minimal impact on the whole process. The only way they could get money from these projects was to pass a support resolution. The proponents can then turn to the Province and claim “Community Support”.
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act applies to offers, promises, authorization of a payment, or a payment that is made to a government official, directly or indirectly in an attempt to wrongfully influence the recipient.
It specifically applies to payments that are intended to induce or influence a foreign official to use his or her position “in order to assist … in obtaining or retaining business for or with, or directing business to, any person.”
Benjamin Faiella of NextEra, sent Patricia Gray (Clerk for Addington Highlands) an email that is clearly written to entice municipal officials to aid NextEra’s new business development efforts in exchange of an offer of payment that was conditional on that material support.