Judge says Fagen owns Big Blue Wind
Ownership of the Big Blue Wind Farm in Jo Daviess Township has been resolved.
But, some legal issues still need to be ironed out.
The case has been moved from Faribault County District Court to U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.
On Nov. 2, federal judge Michael J. Davis issued a temporary restraining order that Exergy Development Group of Idaho was not challenging transfer of ownership of the energy project to Fagen, Inc./Midwest Ethanol Transport.
Ron Fagen says he’s happy with the outcome because Blue Earth and area residents have been very supportive of the project and his crew members.
“It looks like it is back into place. For awhile there was some pretty scary moments,” he says. “Let’s say we were too Midwest nice.”
Fagen says “the project is on track” with 17 of the 18 turbines already erected. He says the final one was expected to be up by last Thursday.
“The ownership issue is behind us. We can move forward,” says Jennifer Johnson, chief executive officer for Fagen.
Martin S. Johncox of Exergy says both parties have agreed to a process to settle any legal disputes,
By doing so, Johncox says the multi-million dollar energy project can be completed by Dec. 31.
Also, that means a $22 million stimulus grant will no longer be in jeopardy.
“Exergy and Fagen agree that Fagen owns and controls the project while reserving to Exergy the right to recover damages from Fagen for wrongful assertion of ownership and control,” says Johncox.
Exergy attorney Michael Cockson of Minneapolis says Magistrate Judge Steven Rau has given defense attorneys until Nov. 19 to submit their written brief.
“We have an obligation to respond to their complaint and our time to do so has been extended,” says Cockson.
In court papers filed in Faribault County District Court last month, Fagen officials claimed uncertainty over ownership is “holding the project hostage.”
Northern State Power was having second thoughts, says a court complaint, about buying power from Big Blue because of confusion over who owns the 36-megawatt project.
“Defendants (Exergy) stipulate and agree that they will take no action purporting to be on behalf of the project, that they will not instruct others to do so, and that they will make no communications to any party that they have ownership,” Davis wrote in his order.
Cockson says Exergy will file a countersuit to recover damages for wrongful assertion of control and ownership.
“Exergy intends to assert its claim for reimbursement of its pre-construction development costs as well as for the payments it has made to vendors of the project,” he adds.
In court papers filed in district court, Fagen officials contend Exergy is also attempting to collect a $2.6 million “developer’s fee” from the Granite Falls-based company.
When completed and operational, Big Blue is expected to produce enough power for nearly 20,000 homes a year and create 60 jobs locally.