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Trash-to-ethanol project on hold as Lake County watches Florida

Updated: December 19, 2012 12:54PM



Powers Energy and SMC LLC, the local construction consortium looking to take over development of the trash-to-ethanol project, will get yet more time to make the deal happen.

This was despite efforts by the Republican minority on the Lake County Solid Waste Management District board to have the contract tossed and start from scratch with a request for proposals on the best way to reduce the county’s solid waste.

Ted Cuson, SMC’s representative, told the board that before SMC will take assignment of the contract from Powers Energy it wants to wait until the Ineos Bio plant in Vero Beach, Fla. — built on the same technology proposed for the Lake County plant — is up and running and producing ethanol from municipal waste.

Cuson said SMC has had numerous meetings with Ineos and that the plant in Vero Beach is moving forward according to their schedule. He said Ineos representatives are enthusiastic about the progress but until ethanol is being produced, SMC will not be able to line up the needed funding.

“It’s a lot of talk. But the fact is they feel pretty good about how the project is going,” Cuson said.

Griffith representative George Jerome made the motion to cancel the contract and go out for a request for proposal nationwide. He said SMC would be in a good position to submit a proposal.

Schererville’s representative, Hal Slager, who will be leaving the board to take his seat as a newly elected state representative, agreed. He said the board has given Powers and SMC more than a reasonable amount of time to move forward with a deal. He said the project is no closer to reality than it was five years ago.

“We have certainly gone the extra mile on this. It’s been a moving target from the beginning,” Slager said.

Lake County Commissioner Gerry Scheub continued to defend the project and encouraged board members to continue to be patient until it is learned whether or not the Florida plant is successful. He said the project, if successful, would not only be a solution to the county’s solid waste disposal but a source of many new jobs for local residents.

“We are four months away from finding out what will really happen,” Scheub said.

Jerome’s motion failed 8-15, allowing the assignment of the contract from Powers to SMC to move forward until further board action.



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