GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — The City of Georgetown is attempting to get out of an energy contract that requires it to purchase electricity from a 150-megawatt solar farm in Fort Stockton.
The city says it filed a lawsuit against Buckthorn Westex, LLC, the owners of the farm. Georgetown City Manager David Morgan said in a press release the city has become aware of several problems related to the farm’s operation and performance resulting in financial losses for the city. The lawsuit says these “numerous material breaches” of their agreement have “resulted in unnecessary financial losses to the City.”
According to the lawsuit, Georgetown is seeking more than $1 million and cancelation of its agreement. It and Buckthorn Westex, LLC have tried to resolve their issues since the end of March, the suit said.
Buckthorn Westex, LLC, released a statement on the lawsuit:
Buckthorn strongly disputes all claims in the Complaint made by the City of Georgetown. Buckthorn has and will continue to honor all terms of its contractual agreement with the City and any claims to the contrary are inaccurate. Just two days before filing its lawsuit, the City agreed to formal mediation. Rather than working in good faith, Georgetown elected to pursue litigation in a clear attempt to terminate its contractual obligations. Buckthorn is eager to present the facts in the legal process.
In 2012, Georgetown made a push to utilize 100% renewable energy, entering into long-term contracts with wind and solar farms to create stable rates. However, Morgan said the city spent $26 million over its budget on purchased power over the last three fiscal years.
In February, Georgetown city leaders announced that utility customers would begin paying higher electric bills after passing a “power cost adjustment,” increasing the average person’s monthly bill by an estimated $12.82.
The confidentiality requirements in the agreement between Georgetown and Buckthorn means any specifics about the issues at the farm cannot be disclosed, according to the city. The lawsuit reflects that, but does allude that during negotiation “Buckthorn possessed material confidential information, to which it knew Georgetown had no access nor knowledge of, concerning the expected performance of the facility. Buckthorn did not disclose that information to Georgetown during or after those negotiations.”