Montana wind farm sues Calif. utility over investment, energy purchase

Dec. 20, 2013 at 5:23 PM   |   0 comments

CUT BANK, Mont., Dec. 20 (UPI) -- A Montana wind farm operator says it is suing a California utility for breach of contract, charging it with reneging on an investment commitment.

NaturEner, owner and operator of three wind farms in Montana, filed a suit Friday against San Diego Gas & Electric, alleging the utility breached a contract to invest in NaturEner's Rim Rock wind farm. The lawsuit seeks to prevent the California utility from reneging on a contractual promise to buy the renewable energy generated at the facility, NaturEner said in a release Friday.

The utility, a subsidiary of energy conglomerate Sempra Energy, had agreed to invest approximately $285 million in the 189-megawatt Rim Rock wind farm and to purchase renewable energy credits as part of its obligation under California law to use renewable power, NaturEner said.

However, the utility informed NaturEner this week it would not honor the arrangement, claiming the company had not satisfied some provisions of the contracts, mostly related to the protection of eagles and other birds.

In its lawsuit, filed in Montana District Court in Toole County, NaturEner argues the utility's actions are an attempt to release itself from the deal because of the falling price of renewable power.

"SDG&E is obligated to purchase, at a contractually fixed price, the renewable energy credits generated by Rim Rock over the next 20 years. Since the purchase agreement was signed, the market price of renewable energy credits has dropped precipitously from the price that SDG&E agreed to pay," the company argues in its suit.

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