Multibillion energy giant targets private emails, texts in Tuscola County

Decisions made by officials at this Nov. 22 Almer Township board of trustees meeting are being questioned by attorneys for NextEra Energy Resources. (Photo by Andrew Dietderich)
Decisions made by officials at this Nov. 22 Almer Township board of trustees meeting are being questioned by attorneys for NextEra Energy Resources. (Photo by Andrew Dietderich)

NextEra Energy Resources L.L.C. has set sights on private emails, texts, and voice mails as part of an effort to find “potentially impermissible communications” among newly elected officials in Almer and Ellington townships.

Jonathan Lauderbach, attorney from the Midland office of Warner, Norcross & Judd L.L.P., sent an email to an attorney representing Almer and Ellington townships just three days after new officials took office in both jurisdictions.

The Advertiser obtained a copy of the Nov. 23 email via the Michigan Freedom of Information Act. Among other things, the Lauderbach email asks for preservation of “potential relevant information.”

“This includes without limitation any correspondence prior to the new members taking office that relates to wind energy, NextEra, the Tuscola III project, or the decisions made (Nov. 22),” Lauderbach wrote.

Lauderbach identifies his firm as a legal representative of Juno Beach, Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources L.L.C., a company that wants to build a $200 million wind turbine project in Tuscola County’s Almer, Ellington, and Fairgrove townships called Tuscola III Wind Energy Center. Bryan Garner, manager of communications for NextEra Energy Resources, provided a brief response to questions about the Lauderbach email from The Advertiser.

“We have questions about how the newly elected board members in Almer and Ellington Townships conducted their first meeting with regard to our project and whether any potentially impermissible communications occurred before the meeting,” Garner said.

“Our request that the townships’ attorney preserve potentially relevant information is appropriate and is consistent with our right to due process,” Garner added. “We will protect our rights and the rights of the landowners who are committed to this project.” (Read more)

(This story appeared originally in the Dec. 7, 2016 print edition of The Tuscola County Advertiser and can be read online in its entirety here.)

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