CONNEAUT – The city of Conneaut has prepared a complaint to be filed in Ashtabula County Common Pleas Court aimed at a long-damaged wind turbine at the city’s lakefront.
In a copy of the complaint obtained by the Star Beacon, the city is asking that defendants either repair or dismantle the towering turbine, perched next to the municipal sewage treatment plant on the edge of Lake Erie, in the next 60 days. The city is also seeking the right to repair or scrap the machine, and be reimbursed the cost, should the defendants not act.
The city names three defendants in the complaint: Conneaut City Wind LLC, in care of statutory agent CT Corporation System of New York City; NexGen Energy Partners LLC of Boulder, Colorado; and NexGen’s statutory agent, Matthew O’Conneaut, of Cleveland.
NexGen “may have an interest in this agreement or in the wind turbine,” according to the city’s complaint.
In the complaint, the city alleges the defendants have not made repairs to the turbine, which has been idle since February 2017, when a lightning strike blew off one of three blades and damaged the machine’s internal workings.
City administrators over the past several days have said a court filing was in the works.
The 400-kilowatt turbine was the result of a January 2010 contract between the city and CCW to provide electric power to the sewage plant. The turbine, erected a short time later, provided about 20 percent of the electricity used at the plant. Direct Energy, the primary power supplier, is filling the void, officials have said.
Last year, NexGen told the city it wanted to stretch the contract to 2030 to help it recoup the estimated $250,000 repair cost, officials said at that time. The contract included slight kilowatt-per-hour increases into the contract years, administrators said.
In 2016, the last full year of the turbine’s operation, NexGen charged the city $59,000 for the electricity it produced. The city is charged only when the turbine is producing power, officials have said.
The city notified CCW and NexGen in June that it was terminating the contract, which allowed the defendants one year to repair damage cause by an unforeseen action like a lightning strike. In the lawsuit, the city claims the turbine should be considered abandoned because the defendants failed to respond within 90 days of the June notification.
“(Defendants) Conneaut City Wind and NexGen have refused to repair, remove or otherwise restore the ability to of the turbine to generate electricity,” according to the lawsuit.
As a result, the city is seeking from the court:
• Judgment that CCW has breached the January 2010 agreement
• Judgement that CCW and NexGen have “abandoned” the turbine
• An order directing CCW and NexGen to remove the turbine from its location within 60 days
• An order granting the city the right to repair or remove the turbine should the defendants not act within the 60-day window, and to “use or sell the scrap material and components and further to seize and utilize any electronic and/or operational data.”
• An order that directs CCW and NexGen to reimburse the city for all costs to remove or repair the turbine.
A larger turbine at Conneaut Middle School, erected by NexGen at about the same time in 2010, never performed as expected. NexGen filed a lawsuit against a parts manufacturers that is still working through the courts.
Representatives of CCW could not be located for comment Thursday. A phone message left at NexGen’s Boulder, Colorado, headquarters was not immediately returned Thursday.
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