A Napoleon wind energy company is negotiating its contract to provide electricity while trying to attract new investment to keep its project afloat.
Just Wind has a power purchase agreement with the Western Area Power Administration to provide 100 megawatts of electricity for four and half years, starting June 2011. However, the company has not started construction on wind towers and in July its president said it needed $20 million to $25 million more in investments to keep the project going.
“Right now, we’re concerned about whether they’ve made adequate progress,” said Randy Wilkerson, a spokesman for WAPA, an entity within the U.S. Department of Energy that markets and distributes power. “I think it’s a matter of meeting all of the milestones.”
Jeff Metzger, Just Wind’s founder, did not return two calls for comment this week. On a previous call to the company, an employee gave out contact information to a Chicago-based representative of a Chinese-Danish energy company, Envision Energy.
The representative, Jeff Hammond, said his company was working on a deal with Just Wind and would not comment further.
Wilkerson said that Just Wind’s interconnection request was in suspension and could stay in suspension for up to three years. WAPA’s agreement with Just Wind could be dissolved if it appears that the company will not find the money to finish the project.
“We’re in discussions with Just Wind to try to avoid that situation,” he said.
Jody Sundsted, WAPA power marketing manager, said that Just Wind representatives had met with WAPA officials in Billings, Mont., recently to discuss the agreement.
“We do have concerns. Obviously, there have been delays,” he said. “We’re talking about some options to keep that contract alive and we’re both doing some due diligence to do that.”
Just Wind’s website describes the company as a “grassroots developer” with a “unique payment structure and profit-sharing plan.” The company found many investors in and around Napoleon, but investors are worried about what will happen with the money they invested in the project if it fails.
Metzger said in July that Just Wind had raised $8.5 million up to that point.
Investors formed a board of directors earlier this year after the project stalled. They sent a letter to local investors to meet in Napoleon this coming Wednesday to discuss the project.
The company’s initial plans for a wind farm included 153 turbines capable of generating 368 megawatts of power, with a development cost of $800 million to $900 million. The company once had around a dozen employees but reduced staff to two or three this summer.
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