Powers Energy’s proposed ethanol plant received a 90-day reprieve Thursday, but the Lake County Solid Waste Management District Board said it’s now or never for the project.
The board voted 23-2 in favor of the extension with the understanding that certain objectives be met or the contract would be canceled. Chairman Rick Niemeyer and member Michael Forbes voted against the extension.
Various board members questioned officials with Powers Energy about why they hadn’t provided verification that they had deals to buy the land, to use the technology and, perhaps most important, to raise the money for the $300 million project.
“Bottom line is we have very serious doubts you can get financing,” board member Rick Ryfa said.
He suggested passing the requested 90-day extension for Powers Energy to fix the seven items that the board had identified in February but added that they make reports every 30 days about their progress. Board member David Nellans agreed and moved that Powers should provide specific documents at the 30- and 60-day marks or the extension would be canceled.
“If they fail to meet these milestones, it’s over,” Nellans said.
Those deadlines include Powers Energy officials providing verification within 30 days that they have a contract with Raymond James and Associates to raise the money and a contract with Ineos Bio that still allows them to use the technology needed to convert waste to ethanol. They then must provide within 60 days verification that they have a contract to buy the land in Schneider for the project and a plan for the project.
By the end of the 90 days, they would have to have financing in place, started the process of getting environmental permits and delivered construction drawings and cost estimates.
Ed Cleveland, who spoke on behalf of Powers Energy, said the company could meet those deadlines. Cleveland said Raymond James has had talks with an oil company, which will vote soon on whether to buy ethanol from the plant and become an equity partner. They expect the oil company to vote in favor of the project, but if it doesn’t, Cleveland said, Raymond will look for other equity partners.
He said, however, that it would be easier to get financing if more communities would sign on to give their waste to the ethanol plant. Board member Gerry Scheub said nine communities have signed on so far.