FRONT ROYAL — Earth Right Energy, one of the nine defendants in the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development civil lawsuit, is denying any wrongdoings alleged against the company.
Earth Right Energy principals Donald Poe and Justin Appleton are also defendants in the case along with the company itself.
A news release from Ryan Huttar Earth Right Energy Solar-Commercial LLC states that the company “unequivocally denies any wrongdoing” alleged in its interactions with the EDA and “its employees, agents and representatives.”
The EDA’s case filing states that former EDA director Jennifer McDonald entered into an agreement with Earth Right Energy “for the acquisition and installation of solar power facilities, certain LED lighting products, and installation along with other services.”
The filing states that McDonald directed $1.2 million to Earth Right Energy using town and county credit lines. Of that, the filing states that $841,904 “was for installation and equipment never performed or provided.” The filing adds that in August 2018 Earth Right Energy provided reimbursement of $334,841.
This agreement, the filing states, was done without the EDA board’s approval or knowledge with Earth Right Energy LLC, Earth Right Energy Solar-Commercial LLC and Earth Right Energy-South LLC — collectively known as Earth Right Energy.
The filing adds that McDonald “falsely told” the EDA board that the authority was not responsible for any cost of installation by Earth Right Energy.
In September 2018, the filing states that McDonald entered a $27 million contract with Earth Right Energy for solar equipment at schools. The filing states that contract “was unlawfully procured” and is “invalid” and “unenforceable.”
The filing states that Earth Right Energy Solar-Commercial LLC owners Donald Poe and Justin Appleton agreed to the deals even though through conversations with former EDA chairman and Warren Public Schools Superintendent Greg Drescher that the school had not approved any such solar power equipment installations.
The Earth Right Energy news release states that the company’s alleged impropriety is “inaccurate and misleading” and is “unfounded and untrue.”
“We intend to vigorously defend ourselves and our stellar reputation,” the release states.
The release states that the company “did perform work for the EDA,” which fulfilled contractual obligations. The release adds that during any investigation, the EDA did not contact the company.
The release states that the EDA chose to file a lawsuit “instead of conducting responsible due diligence and inquiry.” It adds that the company will vindicate itself through aggressive litigation and a possible counter suit. Any further statements, the release states, “will be made in open court.”
Jason Poe, a sheriff’s candidate in the November election, is Donald Poe’s son. Jason Poe said in a video posted to his Facebook page that his parents, Donald and Susan Poe, made a $2,500 donation to his campaign. He said that his sister, an Earth Right Energy employee, donated $950.
Jason Poe said those funds will be donated to the United Way of Warren County. He said he made this announcement to fulfill his campaign’s promise of transparency.
“Honesty and transparency are very important to me in my professional and personal life,” he said.
In a news release, Jason Poe stated that “I have had zero involvement in matters connected to or pertaining to” the EDA or its relationship with Earth Right Energy LLC.”