Waste board may cancel ethanol contract next month

2013-03-21T20:55:00Z 2013-03-22T13:04:11Z Waste board may cancel ethanol contract next monthBy Marc Chase marc.chase@nwi.com, (219) 662-5330 nwitimes.com

The longtime champion of a Lake County trash-to-ethanol plant expects a final decision to made next month regarding whether to cancel the four-year-old contract.

Lake County Commissioner Gerry Scheub, who sits on the Lake County Solid Waste Management District Board, said developers have until the board's April 18 meeting to prove the project can move forward with financing and other essential elements.

If not, the waste district may very well move in another direction, Scheub told The Times Thursday.

Scheub said he counts himself among a growing number of board members who feel let down by would-be developer Powers Energy of America.

The company brokered a contract with the solid waste district in November 2008 to build a trash-to-ethanol facility in Schneider, promising a cost savings on county taxpayers' trash bills and revenue from the production of ethanol from carbon-based garbage.

But since then, the county has nothing to show for it, with failed financing plans from the developer.

The waste district gave more time to the plan late last year when a consortium of local construction contractors announced they planned to purchase a technology license from Powers in an attempt to bring the plan to fruition.

But with no progress to date, some board members say they are poised to move to cancel the contract next month.

"This whole thing has disappointed me tremendously," said Scheub, who has been the biggest political backer of the trash-to-ethanol plan. "I trusted (Powers Energy) that they would do this, and I think we were used."

Waste district board member Rick Ryfa, a Griffith councilman, voted late last year to cancel the contract, but a majority of board members opted to give the local consortium more time.

Ryfa said he is willing to wait another 30 days until the board's April meeting "to get this right."

"We have waited too long for this project with no results," Ryfa said. "I will applaud any board members who vote to get this right in 30 days."

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