Powers Energy garbage-to-ethanol plant takes a few steps forward
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent March 29, 2012 4:06PM
Provided Photo to the Post-Tribune Ed Cleveland
Updated: May 1, 2012 8:22AM
LOWELL — Plans for the proposed $330 million Powers Energy trash-to-ethanol plant in Schneider appear to be gaining some momentum.
Powers Energy and the landowner are expected to reach a deal on a purchase agreement in about a week. Powers is also in negotiations with a major oil company that has an interest in purchasing all the ethanol produced at the site, as well as becoming an equity partner in the project, a project representative said.
Members of the Council of Northwestern Indiana Towns and Smaller Cities were updated on progress with the project Thursday at the Lowell Town Hall during their regular meeting. Schneider Town Council President Richard Ludlow and Ed Cleveland, a representative from the local construction conglomerate partner in the project, provided details on the latest activities surrounding the trash-to-ethanol plant first proposed in 2008.
“We are very excited about the fact that a major oil company wants to buy the ethanol and wants to be an equity partner,” Cleveland said.
Equity had been an issue with funding in the past. Two prior attempts to establish funding fell through in part because the building was to be owned by the Lake County Solid Waste Management District and outside factors on the economy including the economic troubles in Greece in Italy and the tsunami in Japan.
Since then a new contract has been established giving ownership of the facility to Powers, which allows the company to use it as equity in funding attempts. That has helped to move a third funding attempt forward.
That new contract means Powers will need to obtain new commitments from municipalities that want to take advantage of the $17.50 a ton tipping rate when the plant comes online.
Cleveland said the company is also in the process of responding to a breach of contract suit by the Lake County Solid Waste Management District. Powers has until April 2 to respond to the filing and Cleveland said project organizers are hopeful they will be granted an extension.
Ludlow said the Schneider Town Council is taking the necessary steps to keep the project moving forward short of agreeing to any type of tax abatement. Ludlow said Powers has not sought any tax abatements and will be taxed at full rate on the project.
He said the Schneider Town Council Monday approved the rezoning of the land where the project is expected to be built from agricultural to industrial. Town officials also signed the tipping commitment letter and forwarded that to Powers. About half of the Lake County communities have resubmitted the commitment letters, he said.