Date: November 21, 2011
Source: News Room
The Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO) and FirmGreen Inc. (Newport Beach, CA), its contractor to build a large landfill gas-to-energy project, have ended their partnership with the settlement of a lawsuit that SWACO had brought against the renewable energy company. SWACO invested $4.4 million with the firm but agreed to abandon the deal because the company failed to build a commercial plant to convert methane from the SWACO's Franklin County landfill into clean fuel. In exchange, FirmGreen agrees to void the contract and will not be liable for any financial damages. According to the settlement agreement, SWACO will keep the facility built to house FirmGreen's gas-refining prototype, along with the gas tanks and pipelines that carry the gas from the landfill which collectively are worth about $3.3 million. The settlement clears the way for SWACO to construct a new compressed-natural-gas (CNG) operation that Ron Mills, SWACO's executive director, hopes to have operating in the next 18months. Mills said that reusing the methane produced by the landfill could net $2 million to $5 million annually.
SWACO filed the lawsuit in June 2010 after it "became clear" FirmGreen was not going to build the plant, Mills said. This was to be the second phase of the $18 million CNG project, the first phase of which is processing enough gas to fuel about 12 SWACO vehicles. In the second phase, FirmGreen was to buy converted fuel from the agency as well. The second phase of the deal evidently became complicated by securing the necessary easments to connect the plant with the natural gas pipelines owned by Columbia Gas.
Mills said that SWACO's board was close to selecting one of seven companies that submitted proposals to build a commercial plant that would be at no cost to the public. He said "valuable lessons were learned in the FirmGreen contract," which was signed some years before he became director. "We should not be using public funds to help startup companies that have no assets, no track record or no resources of any kind," he said.
See also: "Ohio Waste Authority Files Suit to End Clean Energy Contract," (www.wasteinfo.com/news/wbj20100615D.htm).