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Stay issued in Aberdeen solar lawsuit

A civil case over a planned solar plant to be built on the north end of Aberdeen has been postponed.

Circuit Court Judge Jim Pounds stayed the case for 30 days to give National Energy Partners time to secure new attorneys.

NEP sued the city for breach of contract in April. A hearing was scheduled Monday but NEP’s three attorneys withdrew as counsel on Friday.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports the city and NEP signed an agreement in December 2012 where NEP would build a solar power system and sell electricity to the city over a 25-year period. In September 2014, NEP was assigned the rights for the project. When little progress was made over the next 12 months, the city and then-mayor Cecil Belle canceled the contract and looked to another company to build the generating plant.

NEP argued that the signed agreement required the city to make any complaints in writing and allowed NEP time to correct any problems.

The city countered that the agreement was invalid.

As mayor, Belle signed the document but it was never formally approved by the board of aldermen. According to the city charter, for it to be an official binding document, it must be approved by the board and spread over the board minutes.

While waiting for that motion to be heard, the case took several twists. In early October, an NEP representative offered a settlement agreement that would give the solar group 30 days to remedy any problems. Two weeks later, the board voted 4-1 against the settlement.

Because NEP went against the advice of its counsel by offering the settlement, the three attorneys asked to withdraw.

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