United States

United States

Judge calls an end to Ralls' Obama challenge

UNITED STATES: Sany-owned Ralls Corporation has lost its final legal challenge to a presidential ruling against the development of a 40MW wind project in Oregon.

The wind farms are near an Oregon naval training facility
The wind farms are near an Oregon naval training facility

Federal judge Amy Jackson has ruled that President Barack Obama followed proper procedure when blocking Chinese-owned Ralls from building four 10MW wind farms near a US naval base in Oregon.

The majority of the legal challenge was thrown out in February, when Jackson decided that the court did not have the jurisdiction to overrule the president. But Ralls proceeded with the claim, focusing on whether due process had been followed.

Jackson said, however, that the firm had received sufficient process in the run up to Obama's decree and said that Ralls should have sought prior approval before acquiring the projects.

The 2012 decision by the president marked the first time that such a decree had been used to block a foreign business deal in 22 years.

Ralls, an associate company of Chinese manufacturing giant Sany Group, bought the portfolio of projects in February 2012 from Greek developer Terna, but the Committee of Foreign Investment in the United States (CIFIUS) said that the project posed a security risk.

The sites are within or near restricted airspace of the Boardman naval weapons training facility, which, according to its website, is used to test the US military's highly controversial un-manned drones.

Ralls did not notify CFIUS at the time of the purchase. However, the committee found out about the deal after being tipped off by the US defence department, which had seen it reported in Windpower Monthly.

Ralls said it has suffered direct losses of $20 million due to the decision. But CFIUS claimed in a court declaration in September that it advised Ralls not to proceed with construction until its case was considered.

Ralls responded that it "needed to proceed to meet a deadline related to tax credits" and that it would assume the financial risk of this decision.

In light of the decision, Ralls said in 2012 that it would not expand in the US as it had planned. But earlier this month, the company bought a 20MW project in Texas, seemingly reversing this decision.

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