GRIFFITH | The Town Council on Tuesday rejected the interlocal agreement for the trash-to-ethanol program proposed by the Lake County Solid Waste Management District.

In saying the future cost of the program is too uncertain, the council voted 4-0 to reject it but said it could reconsider in the future if reliable information suggests a benefit for the town.

Councilman Stan Dobosz, D-5th, abstained from the vote.

Jeff Langbehn, executive director of the Lake County Solid Waste District, said costs for trash, including transportation to the proposed plant in Schneider, would range between $25 and $28 per ton.

"This is an issue that has been well-vetted," Langbehn said. "If you sign the agreement ... you have a benefit."

He also said the participating communities would get money back.

Griffith Council Vice President Rick Ryfa, R-3rd, said he calculated that Griffith would get back about 28 cents a month per household.

"That's a far cry from substantial," said Ryfa, who also sits on the Solid Waste District board.

Griffith Clerk-Treasurer George Jerome, who is the District board's vice chairman, also questioned financing for the proposed plant, which would be owned by Earl Powers.

Would-be trash-to-ethanol developer Powers, of Evansville-based Powers Energy of America, has been pleading with Lake County communities to adopt the interlocal agreement, claiming the non-binding contract will help him secure financing from national financial firm Raymond James.

Financing for the proposed Schneider plant has been elusive since Powers signed a contract with the Lake County Solid Waste Management District in November 2008 to build a $380 million-plus plant that would transform the county’s carbon-based trash into ethanol. Powers has said that about a dozen past attempts at securing financing for his project have failed.

Jerome said Powers initially claimed he would finance the plant by himself.

Ryfa said he has no trust in Powers' financing because his proposed funding sources are "questionable."

"I'm very grateful that the (district) board gave Mr. Powers some deadlines," Langbehn said.

Those deadlines are a series of dates imposed on Powers to prove he has adequate funding to build the plant. The final deadline is July 18.

Ryfa said Griffith, even after rejecting the agreement, still has until a day before the plant would open to come on board.

"I am in favor of turning our trash into a usable, renewable energy product," Ryfa said. "But I do not think we should commit to a 20-year agreement on a promise and hope."

In other business, The AT&T Telecom Pioneers presented the town with a $17,000 check to help pay for a new police dog.

SOURCE: nwitimes


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