March 1, 2012
New York

Settlement of Howard liens could be in sight

By Neal Simon, The Evening Tribune, 29 February 2012

Howard, N.Y. – More than 30 liens have been filed on properties in the Town of Howard that are connected to Howard Wind, LLC.

The “mechanical liens” were filed at the Steuben County Clerk’s office on Feb. 17 on behalf of SPE Utility Contractors, Port Huron, Mich.

The property owners got some good new late Tuesday when the companies involved said a settlement that would result in the removal of the liens was in sight.

All the properties involved have material and equipment on their property that is part of the Howard Wind development, said a spokesman for EverPower, which owns and operates the company.
Mechanical liens, which are in effect for one year from the date of filing, are often used by subcontractors after they finish a construction project. They often allege non-payment for completed construction work. Some of the landowners hit with liens have multiple parcels. The lien filings are identical for each of the 31parcels of property, with only the tax map number and name of the property owner changed on each notice.

In its court filing, SPE Utility Contractors says it contracted with with O’Connell Electric Co., Inc. to perform professional services, including excavation, backfill, and copper grounding and fiber optic cable installation, for the Howard Wind Farm Project. The company is claiming $1,617,474 in work was completed. SPE Utility said the work was performed between July 6, 2011 and Oct. 20, 2011. Liens were filed against 31 properties.

An official with Howard Wind, LLC said the liens are the result of a dispute between the contractor and a subcontractor, and the wind farm company has fulfilled all of its obligations and made full payment for all of the work that was done.

The company said the liens will have no impact on the operation of the wind farm and future payments to the landowners and the Town of Howard.

“This is an issue involving a dispute between two of the subcontractors for the Howard Wind Project,” said Dan Lagiovane, project communications manager for EverPower Wind Holdings, Inc. “The two subcontractors are engaged in a disagreement over payments for work completed. They have not been able to come to an agreement so one of the subcontractors, SPE Electric, unilaterally decided to begin placing liens of all of property owners that are part of the Howard Wind Project.”

EverPower officials said they have talked to the landowners who have had liens placed against their property to reassure them the liens will be removed and to apologize for the inconvenience.
“We contacted them to assure them that the liens would be removed as soon as possible,” Lagiovane said.

The parties in dispute were working to resolve the liens Tuesday afternoon. EverPower officials said progress was being made.

“The contractor Tetra Tech has come to an agreement with the subcontractor to pay for the work solely done by O’Connell. In turn, O’Connell will provide a lease and lien waiver in connection with that payment,” EverPower said in a statement to The Evening Tribune.

David H. Jacobs, an attorney for SPE Utility, did not return a call seeking comment.

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