Trash-to-ethanol plant awaits progress on Florida project
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent January 17, 2013 9:44PM
Updated: February 19, 2013 3:08PM
CROWN POINT — Until the first commercial trash-to-ethanol plant in Vero Beach, Fla., is up and running, plans by a local construction consortium to take over a similar project here are in a holding pattern.
Ed Cleveland, spokesman for SMC LLC, said the consortium of three Lake County construction companies is still doing its due diligence in connection with a proposed deal with Powers Energy to take over the Ineos Bio license for the trash-to-ethanol technology as well as the contract with the Lake County Solid Waste Management District to build the plant in Schneider.
“For us to exercise our option we need to see the Vero Beach plant up and running,” Cleveland said. In a meeting with officials from Ineos and Vero Beach this week, Cleveland said they were told the plant is on schedule and expected to be in full commercial production sometime in the first quarter of this year.
Vero Beach initially will use vegetative waste in the ethanol manufacturing process. Cleveland said once that is operational, the plant will apply for permits to use household waste to make ethanol.
LCSWMD board members said while they are glad to see the project moving forward they are disappointed the progress is not more substantial.
The board entered into a contract with Powers Energy in 2008 for the trash-to-ethanol plant that was pitched by Powers as a solution to the county’s solid waste problems for the next 20 year and has spent more than four years waiting for significant progress on the deal. After multiple failed financing attempts and an increasingly strained relationship with the LCSWMD board, Powers Energy agreed in the fall to the deal that will enable SMC to take over the project.
Dave Nellans, one of Munster’s two representatives on the board, said while the outlook is optimistic he is disappointed the Vero Beach plant does not already have permits to treat municipal waste.
“I am obviously very interested in the developments but I am somewhat disappointed not much is happening,” Nellans said.
New LCSWMD chairman David Hamm, who replaced former chairman and new state Rep. Rick Niemeyer on the panel, agreed with Nellans.
“I also know you are doing everything you can to move this along,” Hamm said.