LOS ANGELES – Two energy companies sued Rosemead-based Southern California Edison Co. and a group of business people for their alleged roles in a failed multimillion-dollar wind turbine project near Tehachapi.
Helo Energy LLC , based in San Diego, and Saugatuck Energy LLC, located in Southport, Conn., filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court. Also suing is Sand Canyon of Tehachapi LLC, which is owned by Helo Energy.
The suit alleges intentional deceit, negligent misrepresentation and breach of contract.
Along with SCE, the defendants are Eagle Energy LLC, GIJ LLC and four individuals: Real estate developer Kent Hoggan, his brother, Jeffrey Hoggan, businessman David Pitcher and his wife, Heather Kann.
SCE spokesman Gil Alexander could not be immediately reached.
Helo Energy LLC and Saugatuck bought 300 acres and agricultural parcels on which they planned to build, instead of leasing the land, as most wind companies do. They reached a deal with SCE before securing approval from the county.
“Collectively, the defendants, through fraud or false pretexts, denied the plaintiffs the benefit of their bargain … including over $60 million in future profits and induced plaintiffs to spend some $9 million in efforts to acquire the Sand Canyon property to develop the Sand Canyon Project,” the suit states.
According to the complaint, Pitcher and Hoggan told representatives of the plaintiffs in 2010 that wind turbines in the area could produce at least 20 megawatts of renewable energy, using a wind report prepared by Pitcher
However, the data was false and was taken from a report produced for another energy project elsewhere, the suit states. The actual wind speeds in the area would have produced much less profit, according to the suit.
Last August, California ISO, which operates the state’s power grid and wholesale markets, estimated it would cost SCE $2.8 million to build facilities that would connect with the Sand Canyon wind turbines, the suit states. SCE executives decided to terminate their agreement with Helo Energy, the suit states.
A CAISO consultant later told Helo representatives the report was “deliberately exaggerated both as to the cost and timing of interconnection,” the suit states.
In December, Helo Energy representatives told Kern County planners they were withdrawing their application for wind energy zoning. Zack Scrivner, Kern County 2nd District Supervisor, opposed the project, saying the turbines would have fundamentally changed the existing community and environment.
Some residents who also were against the project formed a group, Friends of Sand Canyon, that fought to keep the turbines out of the canyon.
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