SunEdison silent over UK community benefit fund non-payment

Both SunEdison and its yieldco partner TerraForm Power have retained their silence regarding the alleged non-payment of funds to a community benefit scheme.

Reports in the Wiltshire local press last week claimed that Broughton Gifford parish council are yet to receive anything toward a £40,000 community benefit fund pledged by SunEdison when it planned to develop the controversial Norrington Solar Farm within the council’s borders.

The Wiltshire Times quoted Parish council chairman Mark Sullivan as stating that its relationship with SunEdison had been “quite tumultuous” and that the council now faced missing out on compensation as a result of the firm’s bankruptcy.

But when contacted by Solar Power Portal, a SunEdison spokesman deferred all enquiries on the subject to TerraForm Power as owners of the site.

A statement issued to SPP by a TerraForm Power spokesman clarified that “TerraForm Power is not included in SunEdison’s bankruptcy, has no plans to file for bankruptcy itself, and expects to continue to operate the plant in the ordinary course,” but did not discuss the community benefit fund.

TerraForm also failed to reply when pressed on the subject.

It is not the first time that the Norrington Solar Farm has found itself mired in controversy.

While the 11.5MW site was originally proposed by ESCO NRG, SunEdison acquired the project rights in March 2014 and immediately sought to complete its development. SunEdison developed the site before moving it on to its yieldco partner TerraForm Power.

But a year later SunEdison and TerraForm found themselves defending the site in the High Court after the owner of a nearby Grade-II listed building claimed Wiltshire Council had failed to consult properly before awarding planning permission.

Planning permission was originally quashed and the solar farm faced dismantling, however TerraForm managed to overturn the decision at the Court of Appeal earlier this year.