The multinational corporation that owns wind turbines in Sheffield has declared bankruptcy, but energy experts predict the development will have little effect on the structures.
SunEdison, a subsidiary of which is called TerraForm Power owns the Sheffield wind generators, filed last week for bankruptcy protection in the Southern District of New York’s bankruptcy court.
The company owes upstream suppliers $321 million, according to an industry analyst. In the bankruptcy filing, SunEdison said it will be selling “non-core assets.”
TerraForm Power owns 16 wind turbines near Sheffield.
The bankruptcy appears not to have affected the project, said Sheffield town clerk William St. Peter.
“All indications we have is that everything will continue as it has been,” St. Peter said. “The corporate conglomeration [responsible for the project] has not been affected by the bankruptcy.”
St. Peter said he’s spoken with representatives of the project who assured him that the 420-foot turbines will continue spinning and that Sheffield will continue receiving payments.
The town gets $520,000 per year for 20 years from the project, St. Peter said, and payments have been unaffected by the bankruptcy proceeding.
Energy experts say it’s common for large industries like this to protect their subsidiaries.
“I don’t see a significant impact, in terms of Vermont,” as a result of SunEdison’s bankruptcy proceedings, said Vermont Law School energy-law professor Kevin Jones.
Energy companies typically create separate limited-liability companies such as TerraForm Power in order to limit fallout from harms to the parent company like what SunEdison experienced, Jones said.
The event probably says far more about SunEdison’s management than it does about the wind industry, Jones said.
“I don’t see what’s happened to them being all that big of a deal for the industry,” he said.
An unidentified representative of the landowner from which TerraForm leases the ground where its Sheffield turbines stand said she could not comment at this time on SunEdison or TerraForm Power.
TerraForm Power representatives did not return calls for comment.