November 22, 2016

Eastern Maine Electric Cooperative Wins $13.6 Million Jury Verdict

PORTLAND, Maine — A Bangor, Maine jury found that five wind power companies breached their contractual obligation to negotiate in good faith and returned a $13.6 million verdict in favor of Eastern Maine Electric Cooperative. The verdict is among the largest jury verdicts ever awarded in Maine. 

The Cooperative was represented by Sigmund Schutz, Joseph Donahue, and Benjamin Piper of the law firm Preti Flaherty, LLP. The Cooperative’s lead trial counsel, Sigmund Schutz, said, “The Defendants had sellers’ remorse and breached their good faith obligation. The jury agreed and awarded all of the damages we requested at trial.”

In 2011, the Cooperative entered into a contract with First Wind Holdings, LLC and four of its former subsidiaries to buy a 12.54 mile section of electric transmission line. The wind power companies agreed to take transmission service over the line and pay the Cooperative for the service. 

The parties also agreed that the wind farms would pay for costs, including repairs and upgrades to the line, which is standard electric utility practice across the country. However, the wind power companies failed to act in good faith and final documents were never signed.

The Cooperative filed a lawsuit in October 2014 in the Superior Court of the State of Maine. The unanimous verdict against the defendants, First Wind Holdings, LLC, which is now owned by SunEdison, and the four former subsidiaries, which are now owned by TerraForm Power, Inc. (NASDAQ: TERP), was reached last Friday after about two hours of deliberations. 

Following the verdict, the Cooperative’s CEO, Scott Hallowell said, “The defendants’ breach denied the Cooperative of the benefits of the deal, and forced the Cooperative to take legal action.” Hallowell said, “We are extremely pleased with the verdict, as it vindicates the Cooperative’s position that the wind companies did not negotiate in good faith.  We have not yet heard whether the defendants will appeal, but if they do so we will vigorously defend the jury’s verdict.” 

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