TIU Canada, a leading solar energy producer in Ukraine, has sued the Nikopol Ferroalloy Plant (NFZ) for illegally disconnecting its 10.5 MW solar station from the electricity grid. Despite Ukrainian energy laws that prevent electricity producers from being disconnected from the energy grid without their permission, the NFZ illegally cut TIU Canada’s connection on March 1, 2020. TIU Canada is seeking an immediate reconnection to the electricity grid and plans to hold the NFZ and its shareholders fully accountable under the laws of both Ukraine and Canada. The main shareholders of the Nikopol Ferroalloy Plant are Igor Kolomoyskyi, Gennadiy Bogolyubov, and Viktor Pinchuk.
The Nikopol solar station owned by TIU Canada is on land leased long term from the city of Nikopol, however, entry to the facility is through a gate controlled by the NFZ. The solar plant connects to a substation on the grounds of the NFZ and later connects directly to the regional electricity transporter DTEK Dnipro Grids JSC. On December 23, 2019, TIU Canada received a letter from the General Director of the NFZ, that they would be disconnecting the TIU Canada connection to DTEK Dnipro Grids JSC via the substation on the grounds of the NFZ in order to make ‘repairs.’ The NFZ stated that they would begin the repairs after February 29, 2020, and TIU Canada immediately contacted the NFZ to seek solutions to avoid any disconnection. However, despite multiple discussions, the NFZ management and shareholders proceeded with disconnecting TIU Canada from the substation on the morning of March 1, 2020. This illegal disconnection has caused more than 1.5 million Euros of damage to TIU Canada already and increases daily.
The next hearing of the case will be December 16 and likely continue in the coming weeks. TIU Canada CEO Michael Yurkovich said, “this is a clear case of oligarchs pressuring a foreign investor and trying to steal assets. As a leader in corporate social responsibility in Ukraine, we had hoped this was a thing of the past in Ukraine, unfortunately, such practices continue. Nonetheless, we are mustering our resources and will fight this case in Ukraine, Canada, or any jurisdiction needed to win. Corruption must not be allowed to continue in Ukraine, and the rights of investors must be protected.” It should be noted that on July 3, while speaking to the Economic Club of Canada, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky praised the work of TIU Canada at the Toronto Ukraine Reforms Conference. He said, “We think about the future, that is why green energy will be one of the key sectors of our economy during the upcoming years. I know that we have here Canadian company TIU that already successfully works in this area. We are grateful to them for this – please, follow their example”. This case now becomes a test of President Zelensky’s commitment to protecting foreign investors in Ukraine from illegal disconnection and corrupt actions.
TIU Canada is owned by the Calgary based Refraction 1 Fund and has been working in Ukraine since 2016. The company commissioned a 10 ½ megawatt solar energy plant in Nikopol, Ukraine, in January 2018, and an 11-megawatt solar station in the Mykolayiv region in April 2019. An additional 33 megawatts of solar electricity production have been commissioned in the Odesa region, for a total of 54 megawatts nationwide. TIU Canada has invested more than $65 million in Ukrainian solar energy over the last four years and was the first investor in Ukraine under the Canadian Ukrainian Free Trade Agreement (CUFTA).
TIU Canada directly and through its subcontractors employs more than 30 people in Ukraine whose jobs are now threatened by this illegal disconnection.