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January 21, 2013

Plant talks heading to Indy

Consultants will present preliminary evaluation of proposals

LOGANSPORT — The Logansport Municipal Utilities board, along with Mayor Ted Franklin, city council members and the team of consultants the city has hired to evaluate proposals for LMU’s new power plant, will meet Thursday in Indianapolis.

The executive session will follow a series of meetings held today through Thursday by members of the study team to assess its evaluations regarding the planned power plant. Powered by refuse-derived fuel, the plant is expected to cost around $590 million and improve rates by decreasing the plant’s current electricity generation of 8.5 cents per kilowatt-hour to no greater than 5.5 cents per kilowatt-hour.

While it was originally reported that LMU had received five vendor proposals, a release available on LMU’s website lists six companies. Five are companies that specialize in actual development projects, including Indiana-based Green USA Recycling and Huston Electric Inc., along with S.G. Preston Co. in Pennsylvania, Pyrolyzer LLC in Florida and Waste Management, which has operations all over the country.

Archaeological Consultants of Ossian, also in Indiana, is on the list as well. According to its website, the company doesn’t perform any actual development projects, but rather carries out records checks and field reconnaissance to assess any cultural resources within a development area.

The criteria for evaluating the proposals is based on factors like how the bidding company would go about developing the plant and how much money the project is expected to cost and bring in, both directly and indirectly.

The evaluations also assess projections on emissions and the nature of any detriments that may be made to the area.

The consultants will make an official recommendation of their preferred proposal to LMU late Sunday and will be available to the public on Monday.

The city council recently allocated County Economy Development Income Tax funds to finance the consultants’ evaluations of the proposals. The city has already spent money on preliminary phases of the project, a figure Councilman Chuck LaDow said is approaching $1 million. LaDow recently requested a report providing details on how the money is being used by the consultants, something Franklin said he is happy to oblige.

“Everything is public record and anyone who requests it is certainly entitled to it,” Franklin said. “We’ll certainly get all the information, there’s nothing to hide. My approach to this is, ‘Yes, it’s expensive...[but] if we do nothing, we’re facing a 95 to 100 percent increase in electric sales.’”

LaDow said he had concerns regarding this matter as well.

“I keep reading that if we don’t do this, our electric rates will go up 95 percent, but I can’t find the data that supports that,” LaDow said. “I’m trying to track down as much research as I can prior to the meeting on Thursday so I can ask the proper questions not only to find answers, but also ones that have verifiable data.”

If the LMU board agrees with the consultants’ recommendation on Sunday, it will give a presentation of that recommendation at the city council meeting at 5 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 4.

The earliest that the city council could hold a final vote on the matter would be Thursday, Feb. 14.

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

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