Vertical Harvest in downtown Westbrook is expected to start producing crops next summer, according to a city official. The new municipal parking garage is pictured to the right. Robert Lowell / American Journal

An energy auditing firm in South Portland is suing Vertical Harvest, seeking $180,000 in unpaid compensation that it says was part of a consulting agreement.

Energy Audits Ltd. filed the suit Sept. 15 in Cumberland County Superior Court in Portland against Vertical Harvest Inc. of Jackson, Wyoming, and Vertical Harvest Maine L3C.

According to court documents, Vertical Harvest hired Energy Audits in connection with the installation of LED lights, HVAC and refrigeration controls at the hydroponic greenhouse under construction in downtown Westbrook “with the goal of maximizing the amount of rebates available from Efficiency Maine.”

Under the terms of the consulting agreement, Energy Audits would be compensated for its services by receiving 18% of the resulting rebates. The firm “worked diligently” on the project. Because of their work, the firm says in the lawsuit, Efficiency Maine informed them in April that rebates for Vertical Harvest would be considered.

Vertical Harvest terminated the consulting agreement with Energy Audits effective May 18, advised the firm it would complete the application for the rebates in-house and that “Energy Audits would not receive compensation due under the consulting agreement,” the court filing says.

It is unclear whether Vertical Harvest eventually filed for or received any rebates.


Darrell Cooper, managing director of Energy Audits, did not return a call seeking comment by the American Journal’s deadline Wednesday, and its attorney, Christopher Branson of Murray, Plumb & Murray, did not respond to an email Monday seeking comment. Vertical Harvest also did not respond to an email Monday seeking comment.

The lawsuit lists the city of Westbrook, which owns the land where Vertical Harvest is being built, developer TDB LLC and Foundation Infrastructure Debt Fund as parties in interest.

City Administrator Jerre Bryant said Wednesday that the city had not yet been served notice of the lawsuit.

“It is our understanding that this is a dispute with a vendor who was discharged by Vertical Harvest for non-performance. It is also our understanding that the parties are currently in discussions to resolve this matter,” Bryant said in an email to the American Journal.

Construction on the high-rise greenhouse and mixed-use building and an adjacent municipal parking garage is nearing completion on the city-owned property at the intersection of William Clarke Drive and Mechanic Street.

“This dispute and potential litigation have no impact on the city’s parking garage,” Bryant said.


In a partnership deal, the city leased the downtown site to Vertical Harvest developer TDB, which subleased it to Vertical Harvest, according to court documents.

The September lawsuit followed Energy Audits’ July 31 filing of a lien against Vertical Harvest in the Cumberland County Registry of Deeds. The lien is for “labor and services it performed” totaling about $180,000.

The lawsuit asks the court to enforce the lien.

In addition to the $180,000 Energy Audits says it is due, also seeks interest, costs and attorney fees.

Westbrook Economic Development Director Dan Stevenson, speaking last week to a veterans’ group, said Vertical Harvest is expected to be up and running by the end of June 2024.

Vertical Harvest has a flagship facility in Wyoming and has plans to open another facility in Detroit, Michigan.

The Westbrook facility is “slated to produce two million pounds of produce annually and provide fresh nutritious produce to schools, hospitals, restaurants, markets and consumers,” the Vertical Harvest website says. “In addition to partnerships secured with Native Maine, Sodexo Maine and Hannaford Supermarkets, Vertical Harvest Maine will be working with hospitals, corporate cafeterias, schools, chefs, restaurants, caterers.”

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