Owners of Scituate’s wind turbine say that federal charges against employees of its Chinese manufacturer won't significant affect the local turbine.
According to a June 27 release from the US Department of Justice, three employees from China's Sinovel Wind Group Co. Ltd. are being charged with stealing trade secrets from AMSC, a United States-based company formerly known as American Superconductor Inc.
“Today, we announce charges against Sinovel and three individuals for stealing proprietary wind turbine technology from AMSC in order to produce their own turbines powered by stolen intellectual property,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, in a release.
Several turbines in the Boston area were manufactured by Sinovel, including Scituate and Falmouth turbines owned by Palmer Capital President Gordon Deane, and Charlestown’s turbine, owned by the MWRA.
The legal case could have ramifications for the local machines, including software currently being used.
Yet the operation of the local turbines is not at risk, Deane said.
“Under our contracts, yes. If there is any issue [with our technology or software, Sinovel] has to make it right. We’ve also had discussions with AMSC that they would be willing to step in and make it right as well,” Deane said in a phone interview.
Alterations could include replacing any software determined to be stolen. According to a release issued by Palmer Capital, an agreement is already in place with AMSC to replace software should it become necessary.
A timeline for that decision, to be made by the courts, is unclear.
“This is a legal action, and people could settle in three months or three years,” Deane said.
The development is only the latest dispute against Sinovel. According to the release from Palmer Capital, Sinovel has been involved in an ongoing dispute with AMSC since the fall of 2011.
“Scituate Wind, LLC first learned about the dispute only after it became public, which was after the turbine for Scituate was ordered,” the release said. “Scituate Wind was also not aware of any DOJ investigation at the time the turbine was ordered.”
Deane stressed that Scituate was not involved in the lawsuit, and was cooperating with the federal government as well as AMSC as the lawsuit evolved.
“This doesn’t effect operation of Fairhaven wind [or] Scituate wind,” Deane said.