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Trial starts in turbine case

JEFFERSON – A jury heard opening statements in the legal battle between a wind turbine operator and the company that supplied the machine.

The legal battle between NexGen Energy Partners LLC and Elecon Engineering has been going on since 2011, when a claim was filed against Elecon Engineering and the company’s U.S. distributor, Reflecting Blue Technologies, according to court records.

The day began with instructions to the jury, with Common Pleas Judge Marianne Sezon reading a list of rules to the jury.

The attorneys then each got an hour to make their opening statements.

NexGen purchased a wind turbine from Elecon Engineering, through Reflecting Blue, and erected the turbine next to Conneaut Middle School.

The turbine at CMS occasionally produced electricity, but was never officially commissioned and had repeated technical problems, said Bradley Barmen, attorney for NexGen.

However, he took a broader take on the trial.

“It’s not just about a turbine. … It’s not just about why it doesn’t work,” Barmen said.

There were numerous different problems with the turbine, he said.

“It was a cluster from start to finish,” he said.

The turbine was an untested prototype, he said.

David Bertsch, Elecon’s attorney, claims that the problems with the turbine were not from manufacturing issues. Instead, the turbine was assembled in haste, without knowledgeable supervision or contractors, he claimed.

NexGen employed some of the most qualified people in their fields, Barmen said. He described the resumes of the company’s leadership team, including John Brown, the company’s president, and Charles Newcomb, NexGen’s Chief Technology Officer.

Elecon was licensed to build the Turbowinds T-600. The T-600 that Turbowinds built was a time-tested design that was no longer being built by Turbowinds.

NexGen is claiming in its suit that Elecon modified the design of the turbine, and sold NexGen an untested prototype.

Bertsch claimed that the NexGen team lacked experience with turbines of this size.

Documents filed before the trial estimated that the trial will take around two weeks. NexGen has also stated that the company is seeking $12 million, with the potential for additional damages based on damage to NexGen’s reputation, according to court records.

The case was first filed in 2011, and the fraud charge was dismissed at one point, before being reinstated, according to court records. A trial date was originally scheduled in 2012, and has been delayed multiple times.