- Associated Press - Thursday, July 16, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Oregon Institute of Technology has filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against the maker of a pump that was to supply geothermal water for the university’s power plant in Klamath Falls.

Oregon Tech is a leader among North American universities in generating power from renewable sources. The campus has been entirely heated by geothermal water for decades, and a 1.75-megawatt plant to provide electricity was launched last spring.

The complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Medford says Hydro Resources won a contract in 2011 to “design, construct, furnish and monitor installation” of a turbine pump for a vertical well.

Attorneys for Oregon Tech allege the equipment failed shortly after last spring’s unveiling. The pump was sent to Nevada for repairs, but problems persisted upon its return.

“Rather than remedy the problems with the pump, however, Hydro removed it from the premises and retained it,” according to the lawsuit submitted by attorneys Heather Cavanaugh and Kellen Norwood.

Officials from Hydro Resources - based in Sugarland, Texas - did not respond to an interview request Thursday.

Oregon Tech bought a pump from a different contractor in September for $350,000; it became fully operational in December.

The lawsuit contends Hydro Resources failed to live up to the contract and seeks an unspecified amount of money.

According to the lawsuit, Oregon Tech has spent $170,000 trying to remove portions of the failed equipment that broke off, fell into the well and are believed stuck. The twice-failed pump also forced the university to meet its energy needs for eight months by buying power from a utility, an estimated expense of $250,000.

Oregon Tech is one of the state’s seven public universities. Its enrollment is about 4,300 students.

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Follow Steven DuBois at twitter.com/pdxdub

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