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Texas wind farms sue Citigroup over charges from winter storm

FILE PHOTO: The Citigroup Inc logo is seen at the SIBOS banking and financial conference in Toronto

(Reuters) -A Canadian renewable energy firm on Wednesday sued Citigroup Inc for rejecting force majeure declarations during a February winter storm and billing it over $100 million for replacement power, according to lawsuits filed in a Texas state court.

Shannon Wind and Flat Top Wind, subsidiaries of Innergex Renewable Energy Inc, operate North Texas wind farms that halted their wind turbines during an arctic deep freeze. Both had agreements to physically deliver power to Citi Energy, a unit of Citigroup Inc, at fixed prices.

Unusually frigid temperatures knocked out nearly half of the state’s power plants in mid-February, leaving 4.5 million people without heat or light for days and bankrupting at least three companies due to high wholesale power prices.

The wind firms, partly owned by Starwood Energy Group Global and a fund run by BlackRock Inc, respectively, declared force majeure after their turbines froze. But, their lawsuits in a Texas court claimed Citi ignored the declarations and invoiced them for electricity it bought at inflated prices.

BlackRock declined to comment and Starwood did not have an immediate comment. Innergex did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Citi said the contracts require the disputes to be resolved by courts in New York and applying to New York law.

“We are unaware of any legitimate basis for these cases to be filed in Texas,” Citi said in a statement.

Citi billed Shannon Wind for $39.5 million for four days of electricity, and billed Flat Top Wind for $79.3 million for seven days of electricity, according to the suits filed in Harris County District Court, Houston.

The invoices represent more than their projected revenues for the entire year, the lawsuits said, claiming Citi Energy “improperly defaulted” them and is poised to foreclose on both projects.

The lawsuits asked the court to prevent Citi Group from taking further action after the wind companies were advised that they have until Friday to pay their invoices.

Citi billed for replacement power at $9,000 per megawatt hour, versus the roughly $22 to $26 per megawatt hour under their contracts.

(Reporting by Liz Hampton; Editing by Cynthia Osterman & Shri Navaratnam)

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