VLCIA to sue Sterling Power about biomass site?

I’d heard a rumor that some sort of lawsuit about the biomass site was the subject of some of the Industrial Authority executive sessions for real estate discussions. VLCIA has finally said in public what their position is.

Jason Schaefer wrote for the VDT today, Authority weighs suit for biomass land: Slow progress leads to default, contract argument

The Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority plans to send a petition to Lowndes County Superior Court to sue Wiregrass Power, LLC, for a clear title on the land purchased for the development of a biomass energy plant.

The Authority believes Wiregrass defaulted on a lease agreement to build the plant, placing ownership of the 22.22-acre tract back in their hands, but Wiregrass denies the allegations. This denial casts “a cloud” of suspicion on the Authority that may prevent it from re-marketing the property, according to the petition, leading to the suit.

Sounds like they’re publicizing their intent to try to scare Sterling off without having to sue. I’m for that.

This may explain a flurry of special called meetings they had in May and June 2011.

In June 2011, the Authority informed Wiregrass of the default and gave the company notice of termination of the agreement, as well as a new offer, said Steve Gupton, attorney for the Authority.

“We wanted to try to get them an agreement to develop as a non-biomass site, and we entered into a side-letter agreement to do that until December 2011,” Gupton said.

But the Authority never received any “concrete notice” from Wiregrass that it planned to build the second solar facility, Gupton said.

Nothing was said about such a notice or offer or letter in the Attorney’s Report in VLCIA’s 14 June 2012 meeting, unless it was in the last half minute when they were whispering and exchanging papers. Is that legal, by the way? In an “open meeting” deliberately speaking so low spectators can’t hear?

That was the meeting when Mario Bartoletti, Matt Flumerfelt, and Karen Noll spoke against the biomass plant and asked for a no-biomass clause. Also, I suggested to them they might expand the solar plant as a way to emphasize that this area is for clean renewable energy. I also suggested they publish their agendas online. Two months later they started doing that, but the timing is probably a coincidence.

Gupton also didn’t say anything about any of that in his Attorney’s Report of 19 July 2012, although he did discuss VLCIA’s lease with the City of Valdosta for the operational solar plant.

In between, they held a special called meeting 8 July 2011 to discuss real estate, with the rumor that the real estate was the biomass plant.

I’m for this:

The suit is necessary to clear the land title and allow the Authority to move forward with a new agreement, Gupton said. The Authority will likely pursue the expansion of the solar facility.

Of course, even with clear title to the land, there’s still going to be difficulty getting a good power purchase agreement (PPA) because of Georgia’s 1973 Territorial Electric Service Act, which says you can only sell to your one and only electric utility. Georgia Power has already found all the 50 MW of solar the GA PSC required it to find, yet nobody can sell through Georgia Power to, for example TVA. Maybe VLCIA can help get that law changed.