Lake County scraps ethanol plant contract
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent April 18, 2013 7:30PM
Lake County Commissioner Gerry Scheub | Post-Tribune File Photo
Updated: April 19, 2013 11:30AM
CROWN POINT — Time has run out for Powers Energy One of Indiana LLC and the proposed trash-to-ethanol plant in Schneider.
The Lake County Solid Waste Management District Board on Thursday voted 19-0 to terminate the contract with Powers Energy to build the trash-to-ethanol plant since little has been done to move the project forward in five years after the contract was signed and funding has still not been secured.
The action was taken despite threats of legal action by Earl Powers, the company’s president and CEO, if the deal were to be rescinded.
Lake County Commissioner Gerry Scheub, D-Crown Point, a longtime supporter of the project, made the motion to terminate the deal with Powers. The development was expected to funnel at least $15 million into the county each year, create 200 jobs and reduce trash-collection costs for municipalities by about 40 percent.
“I thought when we started this was a tremendous opportunity for Lake County,” Scheub said.
District board officials were forward thinking in trying to find a long-term solution to the county’s waste disposal needs through emerging technology, according to Scheub. Officials also conducted a great deal of research prior to entering into the deal, but the project still was not able to move forward, he said.
“It is now clearly apparent Powers has not been and is not able to perform …,” Scheub said.
In a letter to the board dated April 17, Powers said the county failed to hold up its end of the deal and that prevented funding for the project from moving forward.
Powers writes the board failed to secure the commitments from the towns and cities in Lake County for at least 1,000 tons a day of municipal solid waste the plant would need to operate. Powers said the company has expended a great deal of money in the past five years working to bring the project to fruition.
“Should the district decide to terminate the agreement … rest assured that the Company may be left with no alternative but to pursue damages based upon the wrongful termination of the agreement,” the letter states.