By Roger DuPuis
August 5, 2013
TUNKHANNOCK — Lawyers representing litigants in a $56 million legal battle over delays to the Mehoopany Wind Farm last year appeared in Wyoming County Court for oral arguments Monday morning before Judge Russell Shurtleff.
Colorado-based RES Americas claims BP Wind Energy and a related firm, Mehoopany Wind Energy LLC, owes them almost $56.2 million that the contractor says it is owed for work done to ensure that the $250 million wind farm went on line by Dec. 31, despite delays caused or exacerbated by a range of failures they blame on the facility’s developers.
BP Wind and MWE counter in their response to the lawsuit that “most or all of the additional costs result from RES’s own self-inflicted performance issues,” and have filed a separate suit against RES in Texas, seeking more than $32 million in damages.
The defendants also filed motions seeking to prevent the Wyoming County case from moving ahead, claiming that RES is a Texas-based company and that Texas remains the proper venue for the case.
More than a dozen area property owners who signed leases or easement deals allowing the wind farm onto their land received lien notices against the affected properties from subcontractors seeking payment while the battle between RES and BP Wind and MWE remains unresolved, although about 30 liens were satisfied in June after security was pledged in those cases.
MWE owns the property, and BP Wind is a partner in MWE.
“The land speaks for itself. The land is going to be a silent witness in this case,” argued Doug Kilday, an Austin, Texas, attorney representing RES, who added that permits at the heart of the case were issued in and by Pennsylvania agencies, and that all relevant documents are here as well.
“All of the issues scream out Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania,” Kilday said.
Roy Powell, a Pittsburgh attorney representing BP Wind and MWE, countered it was not essential to the case for litigants to “traipse around 9,000 acres of Wyoming County.”
“This is a case about the people at the site during the construction of the project, who are no longer here,” Powell said.
As well, the defense argued that RES did not file a writ of summons in the case, as required, and that the firm is not based in Colorado but Texas.
Kilday responded that RES located to Colorado in 2008, although two staffers continue to work in Austin.
Powell said tax documents reveal that RES is still operating in Texas as of this year.
The judge gave the parties 10 days to file reply briefs after Monday’s arguments, and said he will make sure the question of legal filings also will be resolved before issuing a ruling. He is expected to rule within 90 days.