As if the plant operators had not already had enough trouble with their solar plant: The Free State of Saxony is taking legal action against several dozen plant operators who own a solar plant on the site of the former hunter barracks in Schneeberg. The reason for this is alleged damage to the roofs caused by the installation of the solar systems. Depending on the building, claims of over one million euros are in the balance.
Nothing good has remained of the former showcase project
A total of 114 individual turbines with a total output of around 1 megawatt have been installed on the former barracks site, which now houses a police academy. The plants were designed as so-called "citizen solar plants": Solar systems were installed on around 40 buildings, which were then sold – split into individual systems of around 10 kWp each – to various investors throughout Germany.
At the start of the construction work, the mayor, the managing director of the public utility company and the project developer were still beaming into the camera together. But the supposed showcase project turned into a fiasco for the investors: First, the Kiel-based project developer, who was actually also supposed to take over maintenance and operation of the plants, went insolvent. Shortly afterwards, one of the liability insurers with whom some of the plants were insured also filed for insolvency.
It became really bitter for the system operators a good year ago at the latest, when Stadtwerke Schneeberg – in its role as connection network operator – announced that it might have to reclaim the entire EEG compensation paid out to date. The supposedly clever investment in renewable energies threatened to become a total loss.
Now also the Free State of Saxony
Hardly the danger of the reclaim seemed to be banished, now the Free State Saxonia announces itself to word. The Free State had previously owned the barracks site, but had sold the property to a private real estate developer before the "citizen solar plants" were installed. After the insolvency of the project developer, the real estate developer also left the scene. In 2016, the property went back to the Free State of Saxony.
The Free State then looked a little closer than its previous owner at how the solar systems had been mounted on the roofs. Significant damage was reportedly found on some roofs. In some cases, water is said to have penetrated the buildings over a period of years, causing much greater damage.
Many legal questions remain unanswered
The first plant operators were already asked by the Free State of Saxony in 2020 to bear the costs of roof renovation. For the affected plant operators from Building 24, a meeting was held on 22.11.2021 the oral hearing before the regional court Chemnitz takes place. (Two of the six plant operators are represented by PROJEKTKANZLEI.) It quickly became clear that things are not quite as simple as the Free State of Saxony sees them. There are good arguments why plant operators cannot be held liable for damage to the roof.
It remains to be seen how the Regional Court of Chemnitz will answer these legal questions. A decision is not expected until the end of February 2022 at the earliest. Until then, all plant operators who receive mail from the Free State of Saxony or the dunning court should take the Free State’s demand very seriously and seek legal advice. Only who does not react, has almost already lost.
Attorney Sebastian Lange is the owner of the Potsdam-based and nationwide PROJEKTKANZLEI. He has specialized in photovoltaic systems like hardly any other lawyer and has many years of experience in the legal support of PV projects. Lawyer Lange is also chairman of the Alliance for Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (Allianz Bauwerkintegrierte Photovoltaik e), which he co-founded.V.