HURON COUNTY – A construction company and contractor put more than $7.4 million in liens on landowners involved in a wind energy project, but records show the new owner has posted bonds to remove the liens.
The $303 million, 72-unit Deerfield wind project is under construction in northern Huron County. More than 220 landowners initially signed leases or agreements with Colorado-based RES Americas.
The project changed ownership last fall, when Canada-based Algonquin Power & Utilities announced a 50 percent interest. Algonquin said it would help RES Americas develop it.
Following the ownership change, Illinois-based RES Construction Inc. and Midland-based Fisher Contracting Co. placed liens on landowners to ensure payment for their work.
Documents filed April 1 at the Huron County Clerk’s Office show RES Construction Inc.’s lien is for $3.3 million and Fisher Contracting Co.’s is for $4.1 million.
Signed by Christopher Jarratt, vice chair of Algonquin and Delaware-based Deerfield Wind Energy LLC, the documents show new project owner Algonquin posted two bonds to lift the liens.
The bonds total $14.9 million – to discharge a lien under Michigan’s Construction Lien Act, the bond amount must be twice that of the lien.
Officials say the liens initially totaled $10 million.
Algonquin representatives and county planners at a March meeting discussed the liens, questioning why they were put on landowners instead of the project itself. It birthed a burden locally: officials say an affected property owner wanted to build a shed but couldn’t due to the lien.
County Planning Chair Clark Brock, who has wind lease documents filed with the county Register of Deeds Office with Deerfield Wind Energy, RES America and RES North America Leasing, called it an obvious dispute – but one that should not be between landowners.
“Hopefully, that can get squared away,” Brock said last month.
Having no representation at Wednesday’s county planning commission meeting and little in past months, planners said they’d like Deerfield project developers to attend their meetings to better inform them of the project.
Officials issued building permits to RES Americas in September 2015. Smith says the project and construction continues.
Amanda Dillon, communications specialist at Algonquin, told the Tribune in November 2015 that Indiana-based White Construction Inc. will build the wind turbines using local union workers and Algonquin will act as administrator. Plans call for 47 turbines in Dwight, Bloomfield and Lincoln townships, while Huron Township would get 25.
The utility expects the turbines will turn by the end of next year. At peak construction, Algonquin expects the project to provide 200 jobs, about 10 permanent.
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