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California utility company involved in wind farm dispute

An out-of-state judge has ruled that a California utility company cannot yet cancel a contract with the owners of a wind farm because of a possible threat to golden eagles. A hearing on the matter has been scheduled for Feb. 14. However, the ruling does not seem to prevent the company from getting out of a separate contract formed in 2012 where $285 million was pledged to the project.

San Diego Gas & Electric Co. alleges that misrepresentations were made concerning the risks for eagles due to turbines contained upon the wind farm. They further claim that the misrepresentations were made to entice the utility company to invest in the project. Nevertheless, the judge ordered that the San Diego company continue making payments until the two parties meet in court.

NaturEner, the wind power company that developed the wind farm, claims that the utility company is using the issue concerning eagles as an excuse to get out of their contractual obligations. They believe it's possible that the utility company may be more concerned about the falling price of renewable energy that has occurred since the contracts were first formed close to two years ago.

A brief news story cannot possibly give one a real idea about the merits of this lawsuit. Every business litigation matter has its own set of facts that may alter the outcome. Since more and more business is taking place across state lines, business lawsuits can also involve a number of different state and federal statutes.

While most disputes are settled prior to trial, it's important that businesses have access to capable business attorneys who can both negotiate a deal or try the case in court if necessary. As the above matter indicates, these disputes can involve hundreds of millions of dollars changing hands.

Source: Anchorage Daily News, "Judge blocks utility from canceling wind farm deal," Matthew Brown, Jan. 27, 2014

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