A “gasification” plan for yard waste from the Florida Keys appeared to run out of gas Wednesday.
Unhappy with progress made on converting unincorporated Monroe County’s palm fronds and foliage cuttings to a synthetic fuel used by power plants, county commissioners, meeting in Key West, unanimously voted to seek a “walk-away” legal break with Energy 3, a Maryland company.
“My big concern is we have a significant deviation from what was proposed and what is in their contact,” Commissioner Danny Kolhage said.
After a Monday meeting with county attorneys and Energy 3 officials, Kolhage related, “They haven’t given any reason to show they would be able to perform differently.”
Under a deal signed with Monroe County in 2015, Energy 3 pledged to acquire property to build an innovative “gasification” plant on the mainland that would convert Florida Keys yard waste into a synthetic fuel.
Since then, Energy 3 has been been carrying Keys yard waste — about 30,000 to 40,000 tons annually — to a mainland composting site while the firm worked on plans for the prototype facility.
County attorneys said Energy 3 has missed several deadlines for progress and no work on the facility has started. That puts the company in default of its contract, County Attorney Bob Shillinger said.
In the original contract, Energy 3 emphasized it would use one specific type of conversion technology, which the county researched. Recently, Energy 3 said it planned to switch to a different but similar system. Commissioners rejected that change.
“What they’re proposing now exists nowhere except the University of Iowa,” Kolhage said. “We’d have to start all over again. I did not hear anything that made me confident that we’re not going to faced with another deviation.”
Energy 3 has indicated to the county that the dispute could wind up in court. No one from Energy 3 spoke at the Wednesday meeting.
Dr. Thomas Beaver, the medical examiner for Circuit Court District 16 (Monroe County), will remain on the job through June under a one-month contract extension negotiated late Tuesday.
Beaver’s contract expires May 31 but his appointment by the governor as medical examiner runs through June.
Beaver will step down from the state post after sharp differences with Monroe County law-enforcement leaders and county administrators, who pay the office’s salaries and expenses. A state commission this month voted to deny Beaver a recommendation for reappointment.
Under the extension, Beaver will receive a June payment of $57,171 for salaries and expenses at the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Beaver also will receive an additional $10,000 for completing final reports on autopsies performed in June but not yet finished due to a time lag in tissue-sample tests or other delays, Assistant County Attorney Cynthia Hall outlined.
The county also agreed not to contest Beaver’s personal ownership of a 2014 Dodge Ram pickup truck that Beaver purchased with office funds and used for office business for three years.
Kevin Wadlow: 305-440-3206