Articles filed under Legal from Texas
Texas dealt a potential death blow to what would be the largest-ever U.S. wind farm: American Electric Power Co.’s $4.5 billion Wind Catcher project. ...“The costs are known,” DeAnn Walker, chairman of the Texas commission, said Thursday at a hearing. “But the benefits are based on a lot of assumptions that are questionable.”
The turbines ran for three months before one blade fell to the ground 190 feet below. Then a second blade crashed through a nearby storage building's roof, falling into a conference room. No one was hurt. The city asked the builders to remove the contraption and rebuild it. That happened. Then another blade came loose.
The LCRA appears to have the upper hand. In June, an arbitrator appointed by a federal court agreed with the river authority that it could break the contract for $60 million. In October, the LCRA stopped taking power generated at the Papalote Creek Wind Farm; now it’s just waiting for a bill from E.ON describing whether it wants the money in a lump sum or installments. ...The blades are still turning at Papalote Creek, but instead of selling the power at $64.75 per megawatt-hour, it’s going for about $25 a megawatt-hour on the open market.
COSADC and the city are suing Martifer-Hirschfeld for failing to meet both its contractual obligations such as failure to make the total $40 million capital investment, making no meaningful attempts to construct Phase II of the renewable energy plant before the deadline, coming nowhere close to creating or retaining the minimum number of full-time equivalent positions, not continuously operating the plant and failing to uphold promises outlined in "Comfort Letters."
The price of wind power is now half the 2009 rate the utility locked into place. That has left the LCRA, which sells wholesale power to dozens of Central Texas communities, mulling a costly, fraught escape from the contract. In papers filed in federal court in late August, the LCRA is asking for an arbitrator to confirm that it would be penalized no more than $60 million should it break the contract.
“The taxpayers did not get what they bargained for,” said Todd Harlow, of Dallas law firm Cowles and Thompson, who is representing the city and the City of San Angelo Development Corp. in the suit against Martifer-Hirschfeld.
Judges Jennifer Walker Elrod and Jerry Edwin Smith said that while PURPA promotes alternative energy, it does not “do so at the expense of the American consumer” but “mandates that the rates that utilities pay for such power shall be just and reasonable.” The majority went on to say that the more favorable pricing is meant only for those generators “able to forecast when they will deliver energy to the utility — and capable of delivering the specified amount of energy at the scheduled time.”
This post offers useful insight into the recent Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals regarding wind power and whether utilities are mandated under Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) to purchase the energy. In the ruling, the Court found that states have the right to limit the ability of renewable energy facilities to sell power under PURPA through long-term contracts unless the facilities can provide “firm power.” This “firm power” requirement is a problem for renewable energy developers, in particular wind and solar.
A split federal appeals court panel ruled yesterday that Exelon Corp. cannot force a Texas utility to buy power from its wind farms. ...Exelon had demanded that Southwestern purchase wind for 3.5 cents per kilowatt-hour up to 9 cents per kWh for the first nine years of a 20-year contract. But Southwestern argued that, because of the variable nature of wind, Exelon’s units could not provide “firm power” and it refused the terms of Exelon’s agreement.
The lawsuit claims the primary companies behind the project - E.On Renewables and Duke Energy - misled the community, property owners and stakeholders on what they were getting. Sixty plaintiffs allege they've suffered "various damages and injuries" because wind turbines are "in close proximity" to their homes.
The lawsuit states the wind turbines create “acoustic pressure pulsations that affect peoples’ health.” Some residents were “even forced to abandon their homes,” the lawsuit states.
Twenty-three residents including Willacy County Commissioner Noe Loya and Precinct 3 Justice of Peace Juan Silva Jr. filed the lawsuit against Duke Energy and E.ON Climate & Renewables North America, arguing the companies built wind turbines that create noise, devalue property, pose possible health risks and spoil the county’s landscape.
“When these windmills were put up they talked about all the benefits the people and the county were going to get such as more taxes and job growth, but they didn’t talk about the side effects of having these wind mills so close to homes.”
Miller took his suspicions to the Travis County District Attorney's Office, sparking an investigation that found Malouff fraudulently obtained the federal grant by overstating the energy savings and misrepresenting his project as shovel-ready. Malouff promised 20 wind turbines ...Three turbines went into the ground but never produced energy. Malouff's trial began this week on a charge of securing execution of a document by deception, a first-degree felony.
Malouff, now 55, obtained $1.8 million in federal stimulus money for a wind energy project, even though the former police officer had no expertise in turbines and no project to bring to life, authorities said. What he did have: a romantic relationship with Mary Jo Woodall, 57, then a Texas Comptroller employee who helped him navigate the grant process.