Pharos-Tribune

June 26, 2013

Citizens skeptical of plant project to hold Q-and-A

Panel will include energy, environmental and business leaders

by Mitchell Kirk Pharos-Tribune
Pharos-Tribune

---- — A group of Logansport citizens is holding a question-and-answer session with energy, environmental and business leaders tonight to discuss the city’s power plant project.

“Our goal is to foster discussion among key people in the community who may not yet be committed to the Pyrolyzer (trash-to-electricity) proposal and would like more information on lowering electric rates now,” said Mercedes Brugh, who organized the event, in a statement.

The panel will include Morton Marcus, retired director of the Indiana Business Research Center; Bradley Angel, executive director of San Francisco-based Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice; and Mike Ewall, founder and director of Philadelphia-based Energy Justice Network.

The free event is sponsored by the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy, or CARE, which a press release describes as “an independent group of Cass County residents concerned about the fiscal and public health impact” of the city’s power plant project.

The event will air on WSAL AM 1230 and on the Comcast local access cable channel in Logansport.

The city issued a request for proposals last November in search of a way to address its future energy needs, which officials said would eventually require spending millions of dollars in upgrades in order to continue with its current electricity distribution and fees that will be imposed on coal-burning plants by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Earlier this year, Logansport City Council voted in favor of negotiating with Pyrolyzer LLC, out of Boca Raton, Fla., to build a plant powered by refuse-derived fuel for a cost that has ranged from $400 million to $566 million.

The development of the plant will be funded by private investors who will own the plant before transferring it to the city for a period of time specified in a build-operate-transfer agreement, the details of which are currently being worked out in negotiations that are expected to go into October.

Although investors will be funding the development, the city has spent more than $1.5 million on consulting fees for the project. Logansport Mayor Ted Franklin has said he plans to pursue reimbursement for the consulting fees during the negotiations.

The project has been the source of much debate, with packed public meetings, a vociferous Pharos-Tribune public forum section and a lawsuit currently awaiting a response in both the Court of Appeals of Indiana and Indiana Supreme Court.

Logansport Councilman Chuck LaDow, who voted against Pyrolyzer’s proposal, said while he admires the theory behind Pyrolyzer’s process, he has reservations because the company has never attempted a project of this scale.

“Anything we can do to educate the people about the future potential power possibilities in Logansport is a good thing,” he said of the Q-and-A this evening. “Being completely transparent is the key. I don’t see anybody losing if everybody is completely forthright and honest with what what can be accomplished.”

Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or mitchell.kirk@pharostribune.com.

If you go: WHAT: Q-and-A session with energy, environmental and business leaders regarding the city's power plant project WHEN: 7 p.m. today WHERE: McHale Performing Arts Center, 1 Berry Lane COST: Free Meet the panel: Morton Marcus, retired director of the Indiana Business Research Center Bradley Angel, executive director of Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice Mike Ewall, founder and director of Energy Justice Network