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Energy & Utilities Case Studies

Energy and Utilities Case Studies

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Hills Waste Solutions - Mechanical and Biological Treatment Plant


We have acted for the Hills Group for many years. Hills Waste Solutions is the largest division in the Hills Group and is involved in waste management for clients in the public and private sectors across the UK.

We were delighted when Hills instructed us to advise them on all aspects of the mechanical and biological treatment (MBT) plant that they were planning to construct and operate in Westbury, Wiltshire.

This plant is the first and only plant of its kind in Wiltshire and is a significant investment by Hills as part of its strategy to expand its energy from waste operations.  It is also a key element in Wiltshire Council’s strategy to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill and therefore the amount of landfill tax paid by the county's taxpayers.

Each year, the MBT process will treat approximately 60,000 tonnes of Wiltshire’s household waste in a way that removes metals for recycling and then creates solid recovered fuel (SRF).  SRF is a dry and sanitised material that can be safely handled.  Once produced, the SRF is used in renewable energy plants to create power and heat.

Construction of the MBT plant took 18 months to complete and was followed by a commissioning period before the plant was made fully operational in December 2013.  The plant is operated by Hills under a 25 year contract agreed with Wiltshire Council.

How were we able to help?

We provided a specialist legal solution to Hills, combining input from our construction, real estate, commercial, intellectual property and corporate banking lawyers to draft, negotiate and finalise the numerous documents required for the project to work successfully.

This included a waste contract with the local authority, funding agreements, construction contracts in respect of the building and the processing equipment, technology licences and a contract for use of the SRF.

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Successful Outcome in an Energy Dispute for a 'Big Six' Energy Supplier

We were instructed by a "Big Six" energy supplier in respect of a potential claim in excess of £570,000.  The Claimant was a major international company, who alleged over-billing due to a historic mismatch in current transformer ratios, following work by its contractors. The Claimant also intimated a claim on the same facts against another "Big Six" energy supplier, who supplied electricity to the same address. At an early stage, the Claimant made our client an offer to settle for £560,000.

Based on the following facts:

  • our client did not cause the fault that led to the alleged over-billing
  • in accordance with the Balancing and Settlements Code, our client had paid-on an average of 97% of everything it received from the Claimant to other members of the supply chain; and
  • our client was time-barred from raising a trading dispute or otherwise recovering money it had paid to the supply chain,

we asserted a change of position defence on our client's behalf.

All three Parties agreed to mediate prior to the issue of a claim, which resulted in a full and final settlement in our client's favour.

How our Client Benefited from Our Advice 

Based on our knowledge of the sector, we identified a defence that brought the Claimant to mediation before Court proceedings were issued, which led to a full and final settlement.

We worked closely with our client's managers and in-house lawyers.   We also worked closely with the other energy company that was involved,  to establish tactics and shared points of interest.  This enabled us to negotiate a settlement that resulted in a significant reduction in our client's potential exposure as well as a considerable saving in legal fees and management time.

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To discuss how our energy lawyers can help you, please contact Jason Prosser on 0117 314 5237.

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Jason Prosser - Partner & Head of Energy Law in Bristol - VWV Law Firm
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