Power Partners awarded $550,000

A jury has awarded Power Partners International of La Jolla, Calif. $550,000, siding with the parent company of the developer of a power plant near Lihu‘e in a breach-of-contract case.

The verdict was announced Monday in San Diego Superior Court, where the case was heard in a state courtroom.

“We won,” said John W. Howard, attorney for Power Partners International.

The case involves a dispute over whether or not Power Partners had been paid for all of its work done during development of its Kauai Power Partners power plant at Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative’s Lihue Energy Service Center off Ma‘alo Road on the way to the Wailua Falls lookout.

Power Partners officials argued that they were still owed money, and Consolidated Natural Gas (CNG) and Dominion officials countered that Power Partners had been fully compensated.

During the plant’s construction phase, Power Partners was acquired by CNG of Pennsylvania, which in turn was acquired by Dominion Resources, Inc., of Virginia.

“It means a jury found that CNG and all of the related entities breached their contract with Power Partners, and owed them money,” said Howard.

Power Partners had asked at trial for around $1 million.

Dominion officials, who have repeatedly refused to comment on the ongoing litigation, could not be reached for comment. The jury’s verdict may be appealed.

Howard in his post-trial motion may ask the judge to award his client over $1 million, while he suspects Dominion attorneys will ask the court for a $0 judgment, and make other motions as well.

He feels the judge will look at and deny both motions, preferring to respect the jury’s decision, he said.

The judge is out of town for the next few weeks, Howard said.

“I consider it a victory,” Howard said of the jury’s decision. It is “good” to get over half the dollar amount his client was seeking, he added.

Yesterday, KIUC officials announced they had finalized a sale and purchase agreement transferring ownership of the KPP power plant from Dominion to KIUC for $40.2 million.

KIUC has been purchasing power from Dominion under a contract that will become void if the state Public Utilities Commission approves the sale of the plant.

Associate Editor Paul C. Curtis can be reached at pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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