The Jasper Utilities Services Board was told Monday night of the Jasper Clean Energy Center’s desire to terminate its lease of the now-idled Jasper power plant.
Attorney Bill Kaiser read a letter to the utilities board that included the Jasper Clean Energy Center’s reasons for proceeding with the lease termination.
The reasons were all economical.
The energy center’s Jay Catasein says plans to convert the power plant into a biomass burning facility is no longer financially viable.
He says the long-term projections are for natural gas prices to remain low. The low prices and the abundance of natural gas supplies are also making it more economical for coal burning power plants to convert to natural gas burning facilities thus lessening the need for alternative power plants like the Jasper Clean Energy Center.
Jasper utilities general manager Bud Hauersperger says this has prevented the Jasper Clean Energy Center to get a power purchase agreement with a power distribution company which Catasein has said in the past is needed to continue with his plans to convert the power plant into a natural gas/biomass burning facility. Hauersperger says the natural gas market has changed drastically in the last five years….
The City agreed to lease the power plant to Catasein and Jasper Clean Energy Center back in August of 2011. A more than two-and-a-half year legal battle over the legality of the lease recently was recently settled between the city and a local citizens group out of court.
City officials say the legal battle cost the City nearly $600,000 and the legal battle also prevented the city from collecting more than $400,000 in lease payments from the Jasper Clean Energy Center.
Hauersperger says the lease termination process will take about 60 days to complete.
Dr. Norma Kreilein and members of the Healthy Dubois County, Inc. group were in attendance at last night’s city utilities board meeting. Says she and her group are still concerned about the city potentially going back to the biomass idea despite losing all this money in the lawsuit. She goes on to say that the reason for filing the lawsuit was to invalidate the lease. She says the lawsuit was the action that was needed to reverse the action.”
She also says city officials including former mayor Bill Schmitt should never had signed the lease with Healthy Dubois County’s legal action still ongoing. She says city officials deliberately did that so then they could blame Healthy Dubois County for costing the taxpayers money. She says, “there is absolutely no excuse for it.”
Meanwhile, utilities board chairman Wayne Schuetter says the city will go back and look at the viability of the power plant when the lease is formally terminated June 20th.