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Pioneer Green files brief in lawsuit

Pioneer Green Energy has filed a brief disagreeing with the assertion in a lawsuit filed by Cherokee County residents’ lawsuit that its wind project will cause a litany of problems for the residents and the adjacent area.

The response was filed Wednesday in Cherokee County Circuit Court in response to the residents’ suit, which was filed on Oct. 21. The residents claim the Texas-based company’s wind project will likely produce little or no electricity, be abandoned when government subsidies run out and cause harm to the residents, wildlife and land surrounding the wind turbines.

Pioneer Green responded by saying the projects are very unlikely to be abandoned, as an enormous amount of money is required to build them. It said abandoning them is not feasible, especially considering the projects’ lack of fuel cost and low maintenance cost compared to the revenue it generates. It said it could find no record of a utility-scale wind project that has been abandoned in the last 15 years.

The response said the main subsidy the wind project will receive is what is known as the production tax credit, which will give the project owner a tax credit based on the amount electricity sold by the project. The credit lasts for 10 years.

However, it expired at the end of 2013 and has yet to be renewed by Congress.

“A wind project only earns revenue by generating and selling electricity,” Pioneer Green said. “A project owner who has already incurred the up-front costs and completed construction has every incentive to maintain the project in good working order to generate revenue and recoup the initial investment.”

Pioneer Green also said the project will not harm residents and their property. It cited studies that debunk “wind turbine syndrome” and another that said property values are not affected by nearby wind projects, either positively or negatively. The response said scientific opinion states climate change is the biggest threat to wildlife on the planet and wind turbines are one way to help slow down or reverse it.

Finally, Pioneer Green said the residents’ lawsuit asks for things that can’t be remedied and is anticipating the size and scope of the project, when no final decision has been made to even build the project.

“The (lawsuit) fails to state a claim against the (Pioneer Green) upon which relief may be granted because the harm complained of, being purely speculative in nature, cannot be proven until and unless the wind turbine project is completed,” it said. “Mere fear that the act complained of will result in the alleged injury to (Cherokee County residents) is insufficient.”