CS Wind deal with province ended in 2017 after Windsor's $10M incentives

CS Wind started winding down production in October 2017, just six years after it came to town promising jobs and economic investment with a $10-million incentive from the City of Windsor.

While some of CS Wind's workers were hoping for the company to be in town for at least a decade, the Green Energy Investment Agreement with the province said the agreement was only effective until Dec. 31, 2017.

The parties involved in the project could extend it with "mutual agreement," according to a spokesperson for the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, but it did not happen.

"Whether this could have been sustained, that's a question we're asking," said Rakesh Naidu, CEO of WindorEssex Economic Development Corporation.

Jason Viau/CBC

The strength of the company is that it offered economic diversification for Windsor, according to Naidu. Not only that, the operation hired hundreds of people.

"They had specialized skills and the product was something that was not made by many companies in Ontario, and actually North America," said Naidu.

Some workers at CS Wind were laid off in 2018. Today, the Anchor Drive location is quiet.

Early skepticism

Ontario's New Democrat leader Andrea Horwath was suspicious of the Samsung deal back in 2010.

The NDP asked for transparency, and copies of the contracts bringing CS Wind to southwestern Ontario.

Horwath said they wanted to know what the long-term sustainability would be.

"We couldn't get any of that information. We got back heavily redacted documents," said Horwath. "This energy program should have been prioritizing community benefits."

Tap on the player below to hear Horwath's conversation with Tony Doucette on Windsor Morning.

CS Wind was expected to hire around 400 people when it first opened. As of 2015, it employed 482 people.

Kieran McKenzie, Ward 8 councillor, said it's not a happy moment to see the company winding down, but this case shouldn't dissuade future investment in renewable energy.

"Not every single investment, whether it's public, or private, or some combination thereof, is going to be successful," he said.

One approach could be to look at "form of conditions attached to investments" moving forward, said Mckenzie.

'No regrets at all'

McKenzie's predecessor, Bill Marra, was at the table when the city signed onto the incentives for CS Wind.

Kieran McKenzie

He said the "sunset clause" for the company was likely presented to council in early negotiations — in that it wouldn't be a long deal with the province.

Looking back at the millions of incentives given to CS Wind, Marra said he has "no regrets at all," despite how it turned out.

Marra pointed to the year 2011, where the city was coming out of an economic recession, and said having a major company invest in Windsor was "a huge advantage."

Not only that, he said the company provided gainful employment for hundreds of people during a difficult economy, who in turn have purchased groceries, cars and homes for years.

"So certainly that re-investment in community is there."