We applaud the city of Conneaut for filing suit against the owners of a broken wind turbine on the city’s lakefront and holding firm against strong-arm attempts to get the city to extend an expensive contract with a company that has failed to produce.
The turbine has been idle for almost two years, since it was struck by lightning in February 2017, blowing off one of three blades and damaging internal workings. At the time of the strike, owner NexGen told the city it wanted to stretch its contract to 2030 to help it recoup the estimated $250,000 repair cost. The contract had been set to expire in 2020, with the electricity generated suppling 20 percent of the power to the sewer treatment plant – it cost the city about $60,000 in 2016, the last full year of operation. In June of this year, the city terminated that contract.
While we certainly applaud the city of Conneaut for looking into and investing in alternative energy, NexGen’s tenure has been a disaster, and we’re glad to see the city cut its losses with the company. On top of being unresponsive when it comes to the broken turbine along the lake, NexGen also has a turbine by Conneaut Middle School that has never truly functioned. NexGen has been locked in its own legal battle with the manufacturer since 2013 and refuses to do repairs on the turbine until the lawsuit is resolved – and years later it is still not resolved.
When it comes to the city’s lawsuit regarding the lakefront turbine, Conneaut wants the defendants – Conneaut City Wind LLC; NexGen Energy Partners LLC; and NexGen’s statutory agent, Matthew O’Conneaut, of Cleveland – to either repair or dismantle the turbine within the next 60 days. If the defendants do not act, the city is seeking the right to repair or scrap the machine, and be reimbursed the cost. The city claims CCW and NexGen’s failure to repair the turbine or respond to the city’s June termination of the contract means the turbine should be declared abandoned, clearing the path for the city to move forward.
As we have said before, wind power in this region has phenomenal potential and is a worthy investment that still has an exciting future in Ashtabula County. Unfortunately the two turbines in Conneaut have not put a good spotlight on green energy and city officials are right to push for recompense. While we expect this means the end for NexGen anywhere in the county, we hope Conneaut and others will continue to explore renewable energy sources in the future, despite the sour taste this deal might have left.