Molly English-Bowers Nov. 16, 2015, 1:02pm


A New Orleans company is suing a solar energy business, alleging it was duped in a scheme to purchase solar-panel tax credits.

Pelican Renewables 2 filed the suit Oct. 27 in U.S. District Court Eastern District of Louisiana against DirectSun Solar Energy & Technology and Derek Gabriel of Georgia, the company's chief executive officer.

DirectSun installs solar systems in buildings across the Southeast. As part of its business model, the defendant allows customers to lease the solar energy systems in exchange for the federal and state tax credits.

In early 2014, the suit says, Pelican Renewables 2 approached DirectSun about purchasing the defendant's tax credits. DirectSun agreed but the plaintiff wanted the defendant to obtain bonds or another form of collateral to protect its interests should the defendant not turn over the credits.

In what the suit alleges was an elaborate scheme ultimately involving real estate in North Carolina, it was determined DirectSun attempted to dupe the plaintiff. Until such discovery, however, the suit says, the defendant purchased 67 tax credits from the plaintiff for $500,000. In return, Pelican Renewables 2 agreed to pay the defendant the value of the tax credits, $833,333, and the defendant further agreed to the security demands of the real estate, the suit says.

The plaintiff wired the $500,000 to the defendant May 28, 2014, but the suit says DirectSun did not turn over the tax credit proceeds by the contractual deadline. As a result, the plaintiff sent the defendant a notice of default, demanding full payment--the $833,333---by March 20.

Pelican Renewables 2 seeks compensatory damages, treble damages, attorney fees and court costs. It is represented by attorney Mark A. Mintz of Jones Walker in New Orleans.

U.S. District Court Eastern District of Louisiana case number 2:15-cv-05485-EEF-KWR.

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