MUNSTER | Three officials affiliated with the Lake County Solid Waste District touted the proposed trash-to-ethanol facility and interlocal agreement Monday night at the Town Council meeting.
Town Attorney Eugene Feingold led questioning of Jeff Langbehn, district executive director; Cliff Dugan, attorney for the district; and Ed Cleveland of SMC, the joint venture construction company formed to build the Schneider Advanced Biofuel Facility for Powers Energy.
Council members David Nellans and Joe Simonetto are members of the Lake County Solid Waste District, which is composed of representatives from all municipalities in the county.
The presentation was prior to a public hearing to take comments from town residents before council members decide whether to sign the interlocal agreement with the district. That decision will be made June 18 at the Munster Town Council meeting after a second public hearing.
Following the presentation, only two residents had questions about the plant’s operation.
The Lake County Solid Waste District signed a contract with developer Earl Powers of Powers Energy of America in November 2008 to construct the plant.
As proposed, the trash-to-ethanol facility in Schneider would consolidate the county's trash processing and convert carbon-based garbage into ethanol fuel.
No hazardous waste will be allowed in the facility. However, yard waste and recyclables, even batteries, will be processed by the plant, Langbehn said. The yard waste will provide fuel for the plant. It will increase recycling but save municipalities money they spend on recycling by waste haulers, he said.
Communities throughout Lake County are being asked to sign the interlocal agreement with the solid waste district to participate in the biofuel plant. This will allow the waste district to estimate how much garbage will initially be available for processing, Cleveland said.
Municipalities that sign the interlocal agreement prior to July 18 will receive benefits including a share of a $2.50-per-ton rebate that the solid waste district will get from the ethanol plant.
"Ninety percent of that $2.50 per ton will be returned to the municipalities that sign up," Langbehn said. In addition, the early agreement signers will be guaranteed a reduced “tipping fee” of $17.25 per ton of garbage processed by the plant.
Cleveland said the facility will be designed to process 2,000 tons of garbage per day. He said the interlocal agreements need to be signed by June 29 for the company to have time to obtain financing.
Powers is working with an oil company and the financial firm Raymond James to secure that financing. The name of the oil company hasn’t been made public.