18. COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES
The Company has operating leases for land, buildings, and equipment. The following table summarizes the Company's total future commitments under operating leases as of December 31, 2016:
Contractual Cash Obligations (in thousands)
Total rental expense was $0.9 million, $1.1 million and $0.2 million during the years ended December 31, 2016, 2015 and 2014, respectively. Commitments under operating leases in years after 2021 largely represent commitments for Salvador and Bahia wind power plants in Brazil.
Commitments to Acquire Power Plants
In April 2015, the Company entered into purchase and sale agreements to acquire controlling interests in three operating power plants located in South Africa with an aggregate net capacity of 32.6 MW from BioTherm. The aggregate consideration for these three power plants is approximately $74.9 million. See Note 4 - Acquisitions for additional discussion of these commitments.
Legal Proceedings Initiated Against the Company
The Company is subject to litigation with Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Limited (“GUVNL”), the offtake counterparty for certain power plants in India, which is seeking a reduction of the tariff set forth in the applicable PPAs. In separate litigation, GUVNL also claims that there has been a violation of the terms of certain PPAs between GUVNL and the applicable project companies on account of a change in stockholders since execution of such PPAs, and as such GUVNL is entitled to terminate such PPAs. The Company successfully defended each case at the first court level and an appeal of each case was dismissed by the appellate level, but GUVNL has appealed to the Supreme Court of India on each matter. The cases are currently pending with the Supreme Court of India. The Company believes that the likelihood of an unfavorable outcome is remote.
The Company was subject to pending litigation proceedings with Suzlon Energy (Tianjin) Limited (“SETL”) with respect to alleged breaches of a turbine supply contract relating to the Honiton wind power plants in China. The operation and maintenance service contracts claim pending before an arbitral tribunal was resolved on December 3, 2015, pursuant to which the Company was required to pay an award of $0.5 million, which was paid in January 2016. On June 3, 2016, SETL and the Company reached a settlement resolving all remaining disputes relating to the turbine contracts. The terms of this final settlement resulted in SETL assigning all rights as a creditor it held against the Company to Beijing Aliyun Investment and Consulting Co. Ltd. (“Aliyun”). In addition, the Company agreed to pay Aliyun $7.1 million (RMB 47.0 million), of which RMB 45.0 million was paid during the second quarter of 2016, and the remaining RMB 2.0 million is due no later than July 2018, subject to various conditions set forth in the settlement agreement. In accordance with the settlement agreement, SETL withdrew its pending claims against the Company. As of December 31, 2016, a liability was recognized related to the proceedings in the amount of $0.3 million (RMB 2.0 million).