11th-hour transfer of ethanol plant ownership seen as disrespectful
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent August 16, 2012 9:42PM
Powers Energy local represenative Ed Cleveland, July 2012. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 18, 2012 6:18AM
CROWN POINT — A decision regarding whether to act on Powers Energy’s breach of contract with the Lake County Solid Waste Management District board regarding the proposed trash-to-ethanol plant and a subsequent plan to transfer ownership to a local construction consortium has been deferred until officials can meet in executive session with their lawyers.
Board members Thursday said they need to review the legality of the transfer, what this means regarding the breach of contract issue currently in effect and whether or not the transfer could result in litigation from the potential new owners or the other companies who responded to the initial request for proposals in 2008.
“I’m having difficulty trying to make a decision not knowing what they have to offer,” said board member Robert Carnahan, who represents Cedar Lake.
Representatives from SMC LLC, the local construction consortium in the process of purchasing the assets relating to the proposed trash-to-ethanol plant in Schneider from Powers Energy of Indiana LLC, fielded questions from board members about the pending switch in ownership and requested additional time to complete their due diligence to ensure all of the contracts, licensing agreements from Ineos Bio for the technology and the land deal were transferable.
Ed Cleveland, spokesman for SMC, told board members the consortium was approached by Powers Energy shortly after the last board meeting about acquiring the assets relating to the plant.
“This is not something we anticipated,” Cleveland said.
Board chairman Rick Niemeyer said Powers committed to producing at Thursday’s meeting representatives from financial services firm Raymond James and Marathon Petroleum Corp. regarding how the project will be financed. He said the move to transfer ownership at such a critical point in the process was disrespectful to the board.
“It is unfortunate this happened. (The board was) disrespected by this gentleman,” Niemeyer said.
Board members pressed Cleveland for a realistic timeline of what the transfer in ownership would mean to the project and when work could potentially begin if it were to go forward.
Cleveland said the company did not have enough information to adequately answer those questions yet and does not want to commit to deadlines that may turn out to be unrealistic.
“… We don’t want to start setting arbitrary deadlines only to disappoint people,” Cleveland. He said while it may seem that SMC will be starting from square one, the company has been working simultaneously with Powers for the last six months and a large amount of the legwork has been done. He said SMC, like the board, will need some time to review the information.