The City of Gainesville Reviews GREC Settlement
GAINESVILLE - The ball's in their court. Gainesville City Commissioners spent several hours this afternoon and this evening figuring out how to respond to a proposal to settle a dispute with the owners of the biomass plant. The city lost a claim against the Gainesville Renewable Energy Center last month. Now an arbitrator is considering a counter- claim against the city by GREC. However their decision on it has been pushed back.
Initially what was on the line, A $50 million claim for damages made by GREC. Now, GREC has offered a settlement proposal that doesn't include damages. But some residents and at least one city commissioner don't feel comfortable with it.
It was a heated meeting for Gainesville’s City Commission Thursday night. That led to nothing. They did however go over the settlement proposed by GREC in exchange for dismissing the $50 million counterclaim. The settlement had 7 different items. One of them specified that the city would also waive the "right of first offer" to buy the biomass plant for 5 and a half years-- among other terms. City commissioner Todd Chase felt strongly against that.
Chase said, "I do not want to settle anything. I want this to go away. I want them to drop their claim. If they are so concerned about our so called quote un-quote relationship, they will drop their claim and we will move forward."
City Commissioner Thomas Hawkins seemed to be pretty open about the settlement.
While the rest of the commissioners expressed they needed more time. City Commissioner Randy Wells said, "I am not prepared to make a decision tonight." And City Commissioner Lauren Poe said, "That would give us more time to piece all these things together and more time for our staff to work and for us to work with our staff in getting questions answered to pull a decision together.
City Attorney, Nicole Shalley's recommendation was not in favor of the settlement. "So, I am certainly not telling you, don't settle under any circumstances... I just don't recommend it under these terms. And the fact that we received an unfavorable ruling does not mean that we won't receive a favorable ruling on our counter claims. In other words the two have to stand on their own merits."
GREC's counterclaim is that the city never intended to buy the facility and that they only wanted to harass GREC into renegotiating the power purchase agreement. The City Attorney says, GREC must prove that a bad motive exists to win their case. The City Commission has decided to take up this topic again Monday at 5pm.
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