MN Solar Project Riddled by Debt

Lawsuits, Debt, and a Project Unfinished

Image Credit: Gerry Machen/Creative Commons

MINNEAPOLIS- Minnesota’s largest solar energy project, Aurora, owes an estimated $85 million in fees to subcontractors and is embroiled in legal battle.

The project is projected to produce 100 megawatts, providing energy for about 17,000 homes. The solar farms are located in many of the counties surrounding the Twin Cities. The owner of the Aurora project is Enel Green Power North America, which is an affiliate of Italian energy company, Enel SpA. Enel contracted out to Biosar America, an affiliate of Greek conglomerate Aktor S.A. Another affiliate of Enel SpA, Aurora Distributed Solar, has sued Biosar for not fulfilling its contract on the project. Due to Biosars outstanding debts, a default notice has been given to them by Enel, which relates to safety and environmental concerns surrounding the project.

As reported by the Star Tribune, Biosar has stated that it can no longer repay its subcontractors. This includes two large payouts to Faith Technologies, to which Biosar owes $7.8 million, and $11.9 million for Minnesota based Blattner Energy. Aurora Distributed Solar claims that in total Biosar owes $25 million to its subcontractors.

However, Biosar claims that Enel Green Power North America owes $55 million through arbitration for the work already performed on the project. Furthermore, Aktor claims that the lawsuit by Aurora is simply to avoid this ongoing arbitration. A federal judge agrees with Aktor’s claim, according to the Star Tribune.

The Star Tribune reported that due to the outstanding debts of Enel, there have been over 20 liens filed in Minnesota. As a means to pay out the liens, Enel has proposed a $108 million payment bond. Furthermore, the lawsuits have been consolidated into the Wright County state court, as a means to more efficiently handle each one. Each of the liens will be reviewed separately to determine their validity.

According to the Star Tribune, Many of those who have filed the liens feel that Enel has been able to profit from the recent chaos surrounding the project, as they are able to get much of the work done for free while the various legal proceedings take place.

Henry Carras