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Legal woes not affecting Amherst wind farm, Sprott boss says

An $8-million legal wrangle between contractors doesn’t affect its $61-million Amherst wind farm, says the president and chief executive officer of Sprott Power Corp.

“This is between Suzlon and White,” Jeff Jenner said Wednesday in an interview from Toronto.

“I expect them to work it out.”

H.B. White Canada Corp., an Ontario company with offices in Halifax, has registered an $8,352,281.44 lien against Suzlon Wind Energy Corp. and SP Amherst GP Inc.

In Nova Scotia Supreme Court documents filed Tuesday, the plaintiff alleged that it is owed the amount claimed for work done under subcontract to Suzlon, the general contractor for Sprott’s Amherst wind farm.

“White has completed its obligations under the contract … but Suzlon, in breach of its obligations, express or implied, has failed, refused or neglected to pay White in full for the work,” the plaintiff alleged.

H.B. White is claiming payment of the amount allegedly owed or, in lieu, sale of lands near Amherst it claimed are owned by SP Amherst GP Inc., with proceeds applied to the amount owed.

SP Amherst GP Inc. is a surrogate company that manages the assets of the wind farm on behalf of owners Sprott and its partner, Firelight Infrastructure Partners LP of Toronto, Jenner said.

The surrogate company was named in the action because it was involved in contract negotiations between the asset owners and India-based Suzlon, one of the world’s largest suppliers of wind turbines, he said.

“It doesn’t affect the operation of the assets.”

Jenner said H.B. White had to register the lien to avoid losing its legal rights.

Halifax lawyer Geoffrey Saunders, who is representing H.B. White, agreed that the legal matter was between his client, as subcontractor, and general contractor Suzlon.

Saunders said he saw no reason why the legal issue would affect the operation of the 15-turbine, 31.5-megawatt wind farm, which began operating in March.

The Amherst farm supplies electricity to provincial utility Nova Scotia Power.

A Suzlon spokesman who did not want to be identified said Wednesday there are often settlements to be made between contractors upon completion of construction projects and they can take time.

“Meantime, claimants involved will follow the requirements of the lien process to ensure they protect their lien rights, which might include filing legal notices or other actions,” the spokesman said.

“This is not unusual at all.”

The actual amount under dispute is far smaller than the $8.3 million filed in the claim, Suzlon said.

It said other payments and holdbacks required under law that contribute to that amount cannot be made to H.B. White while it maintains a project lien.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.