Schneider ethanol plant development has new, local owners
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent August 14, 2012 5:18PM
Scott M Bort/Post-Tribune President/CEO Earl Power of Powers Energy of America talks about the future ethanol plant in Schneider during an editorial board meeting at the Post-Tribune Wednesday afternoon in Merrillville. PTMET
Updated: September 16, 2012 6:20AM
SCHNEIDER — SMC LLC announced Tuesday it has signed an agreement with Powers Energy One of Indiana LLC to purchase certain assets relating to the construction and development of the trash-to-ethanol plant in Schneider.
Ed Cleveland, spokesman for SMC LLC, a conglomerate of local contractors made up of Superior Construction Co. of Gary, Morrison Construction Co. of Hammond and Continental Electric Co. of Gary said both parties are moving forward with the due diligence to ensure the proper transfer of all documents relating to the development, including the licensing agreement with Ineos Bio.
“This is a changing of the guard. We’ve got three companies that collectively comprise 2,500 employees in the industry. We believe we have the credentials. We believe we have the credibility and the resources to use their best efforts to move this project forward,” Cleveland said.
Cleveland said discussions began shortly after the last meeting of the Lake County Solid Waste Management District Board between Powers and the principals behind SMC due to the diminishing credibility of Powers Energy and its president, Earl Powers.
“Being in the lead is a position we like to be in. We were not in the lead before … (Powers) recognizes perhaps SMC is an entity that has the resources to make this happen,” Cleveland said.
He said SMC “absolutely wants to stay working in good faith with the Solid Waste District.” He said the company wants to continue to work in the spirit of the original agreement struck when the board issued its initial request for proposals for a solution to address the waste disposal needs for the county for the next 20 years. He said SMC would like the terms of the document initiated with Powers to stay in place.
Cleveland said SMC is working with an undisclosed petroleum company to provide equity financing for the project as well as enter into an agreement to purchase the ethanol produced at the plant.
Last month Powers Energy announced it had a letter of intent with Marathon Petroleum Corp. to become an equity partner and purchase the ethanol. Earl Powers said a representative from Marathon would attend the Aug. 16 meeting of the Waste District Board.
Cleveland said due to some of the things said by Powers at that meeting a representative from Marathon will not be at the meeting.
“We all need to learn from history,” Cleveland said. “We are working with a petroleum company. I can’t say who it is, but we are dealing with a petroleum company.”
Part of the due diligence currently under way is ensuring all of the documents involved in the project are transferrable. SMC plans to present its information to board members this week, Cleveland said.
For its part, Schneider Town Council president Richard Ludlow, said the town has been asked to agree to carry forward its annexation and zoning for the project and intends to do so.
“We are very enthusiastic about the purchase. We have been assured they will continue to attempt to build the plant in Schneider on the same proposed area. We have been assured (SMC) will honor all agreements Powers had made,” Ludlow said.
Ludlow said he is also encouraged all of the ownership of the proposed facility now will be local.
“The nice thing about it is it is all local ownership now,” Ludlow said. All of the owner-investors are Lake County residents, a fact he hopes will encourage the Lake County Solid Waste Management District Board to continue to move forward with the project.