Greenville EDC ponders future of closed steam plant

By Mike Lange
Staff writer

    GREENVILLE — The future of Greenville Steam Company is up in the air once again, as the current owners are removing major components from the plant and putting the facility on the market.

    Town Manager Gary Lamb told the Greenville Economic Development Committee at its June 7 meeting that he and the town assessor recently visited the plant, following reports that it was being “stripped” by the owners. “It’s clear that the place will never make electricity again. In fact, I’m surprised about the amount of equipment still left there,” Lamb said. The plant has been mostly off-line since the summer of 2011.
    The biomass facility has gone through several ownership changes since it opened in the mid-1980s. It underwent a major retrofit in 2006 and Dallas-based Tang Energy bought the plant from Next Era Energy in January 2010. A potential sale to Patriot Energy Services LLC of Buffalo, N.Y fell through last summer.
    Lamb said that since Tang Energy doesn’t have a generating agreement with any entity, they are still trying to sell the building. “They’re $122,000 in arrears on their taxes right now,” Lamb said, “and they claim that they put $12 million into the place and never turned a profit.”
    EDC Chairman Luke Muzzy acknowledged that the electricity generation market “is changing rapidly. The federal subsidies aren’t there anymore. However, we shouldn’t treat the plant as a white elephant, but as a huge opportunity for the town.”
    The committee discussed various scenarios, including the possibility of acquiring the plant for non-payment of taxes. Committee member Juan Galan Jr. suggested that the town discuss their options with the town attorney. “There are some issues in bankruptcy law that could help during the negotiation process,” Galan said.
    An update is anticipated at the June 21 EDC meeting.

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