SSE Renewables sued over Offaly wind farm deal

A subsidiary of multinational energy group SSE is being sued in a multi-million euro legal dispute linked to the development of a major wind farm in the midlands.

he case is being taken by former shareholders in Green Wind Energy (Wexford) Ltd (GWE), the firm which sold its Yellow River Wind Farm project near Rhode, Co Offaly to SSE Renewables in 2019.

Former GWE shareholders claim they face “significant losses” after SSE Renewables changed the method by which it intends to sell electricity generated at the wind farm.

They are seeking damages for alleged breach of contract, misrepresentation and unjust enrichment. Earlier this week, the case was admitted to the Commercial Court.

SSE Renewables declined to say whether the case would impact on its plans to have the wind farm ready by the end of 2024.

The project involves the construction of 29 turbines with the potential to power over 66,000 homes and offset over 70 million kilos of carbon dioxide annually.

SSE Renewables bought the project after GWE had negotiated agreements with landowners to facilitate construction and fixed price contracts for civil and electrical works and the supply, installation and maintenance of turbines. GWE had also seen off legal challenges to its planning approval.

However, in a fresh dispute relating to the “shovel ready” project, former GWE shareholders claim SSE Renewables breached the terms of the sale.

The plaintiffs in the case against SSE Renewables Holdings Ltd are Smart Wave Ltd, Don, Niamh, Donal and Alison Curtin, Paraic, Margaret and Alan O’Rourke and Emma Glennon. They allege they agreed to sell based on representations which turned out to be false and untrue.

In an affidavit, Don Curtin said the deal was structured so certain sums would be paid for voting shares in the company, and that on the achievement of certain milestones, other, non-voting shares, would be sold to SSE Renewables.

The plaintiffs received a sum of €5m for shares following one milestone, the granting of a grid connection, and €4.1m for shares after a second one, the issuing of a commencement notice.

Mr Curtin claims the agreement envisaged the sale of electricity through one of two renewable energy schemes, Refit or Ress, guaranteeing a minimum price for electricity generated over 15 years. Entry into either scheme would have been a further milestone.

However, according to Mr Curtin, lawyers for SSE Renewables informed the plaintiffs in September that they were withdrawing from the Ress process and pursuing a corporate power purchase agreement instead.

Mr Curtin claimed this course of action was contrary to representations made by SSE Renewables and would result in significant financial losses for them. He said, based on comparable bids, the Ress process might have produced a lump sum of €2.5m for the former shareholders.

A second dispute in the lawsuit relates to an alleged drafting error which, it is alleged, would allow SSE Renewables purchase certain shares at an “unfair and unjust” price.

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