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Minnesota wind farm faces ownership fight; Contractor lays claim to ownership of wind farm near Blue Earth  

Credit:  Article by: DAVID SHAFFER, Star Tribune | October 24, 2012 | www.startribune.com ~~

The Big Blue Wind Farm under construction in southwest Minnesota is generating confusion rather than electricity.

Fagen Inc., a Granite Falls, Minn., contractor erecting 18 turbines west of the city of Blue Earth, has asked a judge to declare it the owner of the project.

In court papers, Fagen alleged that the original developer of the project, Exergy Development Group of Idaho, didn’t repay $11 million it borrowed from Fagen, causing the wind farm’s ownership to transfer to Fagen under a February agreement.

Fagen contends that Exergy, a Boise-based energy developer that has faced recent financial difficulties, is still acting as though it’s in charge of the Minnesota project by sending progress reports to Xcel Energy Inc., the Minneapolis-based utility that would purchase the power. Meanwhile, Fagen continues to build the wind farm and has sent its own reports to Xcel.

That has provoked questions by Xcel, which this month informed the developers that it was “understandably concerned about these conflicting and confusing communications,” according to an Xcel letter disclosed in the court case.

If the dispute keeps the wind farm offline this year, it could put in jeopardy a $22 million federal subsidy, according to the lawsuit filed by Fagen. The suit, filed this month in state court, was transferred Tuesday to U.S. District Court in Minnesota in a procedural move by Exergy’s attorneys.

The wind farm, just west of Blue Earth, is being built with 18 Gamesa 2-megawatt turbines that altogether can supply power for 20,000 homes. As of early October, three turbines had been erected, and towers had been started for half of the remaining units, according to the most recent Xcel regulatory filing.

Fagen is a prominent contractor, best known for building approximately 100 ethanol plants. In recent years, it has branched out into other kinds of renewable energy, including building other wind farms for Exergy. Fagen officials did not return phone calls.

Exergy has described itself as one of the nation’s “major independent renewable energy developers.” In August, the company was sued by AES New Creek Wind in U.S. District Court in Idaho for failure to pay more than $35 million for wind turbines to be installed in Idaho.

Exergy recently suspended development of a series of Idaho wind projects, blaming regulatory delays and other factors. It also was late in paying the bills of a Boise bicycle race that the company sponsored this year. The company had no comment Wednesday.

Source:  Article by: DAVID SHAFFER, Star Tribune | October 24, 2012 | www.startribune.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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