Renewable energy developer to seek $285M in damages against Exeter, Coventry

NORTH KINGSTOWN – One of the state’s largest renewable energy developers Thursday announced plans to sue the towns of Coventry and Exeter for allegedly depriving the company of its legal rights to develop solar and wind energy projects.

In a statement, Green Development LLC said it will seek $200 million in damages against Exeter and $85 million against Coventry for inhibiting progress on several renewable energy projects in each town.

Letters to the two towns notify each of the members of their town councils and planning boards, as well as town employees, of the company’s intent to hold all members “personally responsible” in forthcoming federal and state claims. 

“This has been a long and tortured path to get to this point and unfortunately we have no other recourse but to file this action,” Green Development spokesman Bill Fischer said in the statement. “The actions of various town officials, who have acted outside of their purviews and contrary to town ordinances and due process in many instances has unfairly deprived and interfered with Green’s ability to operate and develop renewable energy projects.”

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The letter to Coventry specifically challenges the town’s denial of the company’s proposed solar array on rural, residential-zoned land in western Coventry, which the town said violated its comprehensive plan. A Rhode Island Superior Court judge upheld the town’s denial of the proposal in 2019, ecoRI News reported.

Green Development claims that the town’s denial violated its own zoning ordinance, which is inconsistent with its comprehensive plan. The developer also claims that the “pernicious acts” of the town have hurt previously permitted wind turbine projects in Coventry.

In Exeter, meanwhile, the developer has challenged the town’s 2018 moratorium on ground-mounted solar development. The 60-day freeze, which halted progress on several of the developer’s proposed solar arrays, violated state statutes and the town code, the letter stated.

Exeter Council Vice-President Francis DiGregorio, among those named in the letter, noted that the town’s moratorium was previously upheld by a state superior court judge.

“We don’t read this as a lawsuit so much as a threat of a lawsuit,” DiGregorio also said.

Asked for a response, Fischer noted that a superior court judge’s more recent denial of Exeter’s motion for summary judgement on the case was “quite damning” for the town. He also pointed out that this is a separate case and still in its early stages.

Green Development has generated 39 megawatts of wind energy and 16 megawatts of solar energy through completed projects, according to Fischer. Another 49 projects are awaiting interconnection from National Grid.

Coventry Town Manager Ed Warzycha declined to comment except to say that the town received the notice and it was in the hands of legal counsel.

Nancy Lavin is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at