Winona County has no involvement in a recent lawsuit brought against Juhl Energy Inc. by Unison Co. Inc., according to county officials and court documents filed in the case.
The suit, filed in federal court earlier this month by attorneys representing Unison, is seeking at least $75,000 in damages for $2.7 million in financing the wind turbine company provided to Juhl Energy in 2010 for a wind farm project in Winona County that was never built. The lawsuit names a number of parties connected with or owned by Juhl Energy, including Winona County Wind, LLC.
The county was initially connected with the project through Winona County Wind, a limited liability corporation the county formed in 2009 in order to partner and apply for federal tax credits. But Winona County Administrator Duane Hebert said the county cut ties with the project when those credits fell through. According to court documents filed on behalf of Unison, Winona County Wind is now owned, through intermediaries, by Juhl Energy.
Winona County Attorney Karin Sonneman said that while the county is not named in the suit or party to it in any way, she will keep an eye on how the case develops.
The county began considering investing in wind turbines in 2005, with the idea of paying for the project using a combination of private investors and federal tax credits and making money long-term by selling the electricity to a utility.
The county studied and debated the plan for years and the county board approved it in fall 2009, but the project never came to fruition.
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