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Ownership of a wind farm in Southwest Minnesota is being disputed between two developers. If the debate isn’t settled soon, and the wind farm isn’t producing power by December 31 2012, the project will lose its tax credit of $22 million, and about 60 local wind jobs will be at stake.
The urgent timeline led contractor Fagan Inc. to ask the judge for an expedited ruling.
Here’s what happened. The project’s original developer, Exergy, was struggling, and needed help financing the Big Blue Wind Farm, which is expected to create power for about 20,000 homes, and over fifty local wind jobs, in and around the Minnesota town of Blue Earth. Exergy is based out of Idaho.
Due to Exergy’s struggles, Fagan Inc. stepped in. They put forth massive fees to help finance the project, starting with $11 million. They’ve also put $14 million toward the turbines themselves, and over $15 million on other fees. On the initial loan, 99 percent of ownership transferred to Fagan. If Exergy didn’t repay by June 2012, court papers indicate that Fagan was supposed to receive 100 percent ownership.
The loans weren’t repaid.
Seems fairly straightforward. So why is Northern States Power, which is lined up to purchase energy from the Big Blue, receiving updates on the status of the project and wind jobs from both Fagan and Exergy?
And why is Exergy trying to charge Fagan a more than $2 million “developer’s fee?”
Exergy claims that when it transferred most of the ownership over to Fagan, that included invoices it had racked up during six years of project pre-development, and that included $2.6 million in out-of-pocket overhead fees, which are commonly paid by investors and lenders to developers. But this isn’t the first time Exergy has been sued over shady wind farm dealings.
Fagan says the overhead fees are “dubious and unearned.” 60 wind jobs and the entire $80,000 project is on hold until this is figured out.
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