EDITORIAL: Ethanol proposal continues to sputter

2012-09-27T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Ethanol proposal continues to sputter nwitimes.com
September 27, 2012 12:00 am  • 

The Lake County Solid Waste Management District Board continues to drag its feet on the dormant trash-to-ethanol proposal, voting last week to give more time to the consortium of region contractors that has talked of buying out developer Earl Powers' stake in this project.

If garbage sat outside as long as this project has been dormant, the rat problem would be horrific.

The board was faced last week with a vote on whether to cancel the contract but instead voted 16-6 to consider transferring the contract from Powers Energy of America to the consortium comprised of Superior Construction, Continental Electric and Morrison Construction.

At the board's Aug. 16 meeting, members learned of the plan for that consortium to buy Powers' interest in the project, which includes the rights to the technology that would be used at the plant.

One of the big selling points for the project is the construction jobs it would create. But selling the plant itself is no easy task. Powers had more than three years to sell it to investors but failed to do so. Then there are the regulatory hurdles — and no one knows what those would be because a plant like this doesn't exist. The details for the approval process wouldn't be determined until an application is received.

Nearly four years after the contract was signed, there is still no proof that the technology works.

The consortium and its potential investors are prudently waiting to see if a plant in Vero Beach, Fla., can produce fuel-grade ethanol from refuse. That plant isn't operational yet. There have been small-scale successes with yard waste, but there's a big difference between organic materials and household waste.

Why continue to keep this project on life support? Pull the plug on it now and seek new proposals. If the consortium wants to put a trash-to-ethanol proposal forward, let it do so, then give that proposal all due consideration. But allow other ideas to come to the surface as well.

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