BY brian haytcher

bhaytcher@starbeacon.com

CONNEAUT — The years-long fight over the wind turbine at Conneaut Middle School may soon be settled.

A pair of wind turbines were built in Conneaut in 2009 and 2010, one next to the city’s waste water plant, and another next to Conneaut Middle School.

NexGen Energy Partners, the operator of the wind turbine, filed suit in 2011 against the companies that made and sold the turbine, Elecon Engineering and Reflecting Blue Technologies, respectively.

A trial is set for Jan. 22, and a slew of motions were recently ruled on, according to court records. Both sides also filed trial briefs, written summaries of what they will argue in court.

In its trial summary, NexGen, the plaintiff, claims that there were issues with the turbine installed at Conneaut Middle School from the start, with bolts breaking and a hydraulic power unit failing repeatedly.

In its trial brief, NexGen sets out nine points that it will try to prove. Beyond the manufacturing issues and the hydraulic power issue, NexGen claims that the three turbines the company purchased from Elecon Engineering and Reflecting Blue Technologies are not fit to produce electricity, that they do not have a 20-year lifespan, and that the turbines were not certified with India’s Centre for Wind Energy Technology, which regulates wind turbines in India, where the turbine installed at CMS was built.

NexGen is seeking $12 million in the suit, with the potential for more money to be awarded due to damage to the company’s name and reputation.

The defendants have countersued NexGen for $260,000 of unpaid invoices, according to the defense’s trial brief.

The defense dismisses the claims of fraud in their trial brief.

The defendants have offered to drop their countersuit and pay NexGen $1 million, according to the trial brief. The defense is willing to negotiate, but NexGen is unwilling to accept anything less than $10 million, the brief said.

In a pretrial conference earlier this year, Common Pleas Court Marianne Sezon ruled on a slew of motions, including accusations that Elecon and RBT were attempting to stall the trial.

That motion, a point of order about international law, was overruled, but the judge also overruled NexGen’s claims that it was an attempt to delay the trial, according to court records.

A number of witnesses are expected to testify in the case, including Mahesh Bhoi, the only Elecon employee to try and repair the wind turbine in Conneaut, according to NexGen’s witness list. Other representatives of Elecon and RBT are on NexGen’s witness list, along with NexGen’s leadership team.

The defendants intend to call a number of witnesses to testify to the authenticity of various records, according to court records.

NexGen expects the trial to last for two weeks, according to its trial brief.

 

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