Spiritwood Energy Park Association (SEPA) announced Friday, Feb. 7, that the 2019 lawsuit filed against the organization by North Dakota Soybean Processors (NDSP) has been settled to the satisfaction of both parties and dismissed with prejudice, meaning the case is over.
“We’re very pleased to have this matter settled,” said Connie Ova, SEPA’s CEO. “With this distraction removed, we can focus our full attention on building North Dakota's first soybean processing facility. A local crushing plant will create new jobs here in the Jamestown area and new economic opportunities for North Dakota farmers.”
NDSP, a subsidiary of Minnesota Soybean Processors, announced in 2017 that it planned to build a crushing plant at the Spiritwood Industrial Park. In 2019, the SEPA Board of Directors nullified its agreement with North Dakota Soybean Processors, noting delays in the start of the construction of the plant. NDSP then went to court, getting a temporary restraining order prohibiting SEPA from nullifying the agreement. That was later lifted. In its original filing, NDSP had sought to either be allowed to build per the contract with SEPA or for SEPA to pay the $7 million NDSP incurred in the planning phase.
Ova said the settlement has both sides paying their own expenses and includes no payments to either side from the other.
"They pay their bills, we pay our bills," Ova said. "It is over."
As the agreement with NDSP failed, another company sought permission to build a soybean crushing plant at the Spiritwood Energy Park Association location. The new company wished to remain anonymous and has been identified as "Company X" in SEPA documents.
SEPA entered into an exclusivity agreement and non-disclosure agreement with the unnamed company in September after ending an agreement with Minnesota Soybean Processors for a soybean crushing plant at the industrial park.
Company X was granted an extension until July to its exclusivity agreement to explore the possibility of a value-added agriculture processing plant at the Spiritwood Energy Park Association industrial park, Ova said.
"The extension to July 10 of 2020 allows continued due diligence and progressive movement forward," Ova said in an email. "SEPA board of directors and staff are pleased with great progress to date and optimistic about good news to come.”
Court documents filed by Minnesota Soybean Processors in September indicated SEPA was negotiating with Archer Daniels Midland to construct a soybean crushing plant at the Spiritwood location.
Ova said the settlement of the lawsuit brought by NDSP could help move the new project forward.
"Company X is definitely not unhappy about it," she said. "This is great news for the project."
SEPA’s sole function is to manage the Spiritwood Industrial Park, a 551-acre industrial park located approximately 10 miles east of Jamestown, North Dakota, and just south of Spiritwood, North Dakota. The park adjoins the Great River Energy heat and power plant and its anchor tenant is Dakota Spirit AgEnergy, a 65 million-gallon-per-year biorefinery that produces ethanol, distillers’ grains and fuel-grade corn oil.