Biomass’ past not forgotten

Published 8:52 pm Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Lawrence County Commission may have somewhat forgiven a Nicholasville, Ky.-based company’s sins of the past but our leaders certainly should not forget what has come before.

County leaders made the right decision recently when they opted to grant Biomass Energy LLC its blessing for an electricity transmission line that will cross U.S. 52. But local and state officials should keep an eye on the company to ensure that it conducts itself appropriately and finally builds the power plant it has been promising for years.

Biomass has a troubled history in Lawrence County tied to problems with delinquent taxes, attempting to burn tobacco without the proper permits and not promptly complying with Ohio Environmental Protection Agency orders, among other things.

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Biomass President Mark Harris sent a letter to the county commissioners indicating that these issues have all essentially been resolved and that the company still plans to move forward with its plans to build a 200 megawatt power plant in South Point near The Point industrial park, an investment Harris says will contribute $350 million in construction dollars to the local economy and will bring 125 “premium jobs.”

Forgive us if we remain very skeptical and don’t strike up the band just yet. We have heard these promises for years and have yet to see any tangible movement on the project.

Still, that shouldn’t cause county leaders to not keep an open mind and give Biomass a chance to finally do what it says, but with the understanding that they will be on a short leash and must follow the law.

We will be extremely surprised if a power plant ever opens on the former Allied Chemical property but we would certainly welcome it to the industrial growth of Lawrence County.

At a time where renewable energy solutions are among the hottest topics, a green energy plant would be a welcome addition to the region.

Now the burden is on Biomass to build a solid foundation for the future that will help everyone forget about the past.