The board of Ada County commissioners voted unanimously to end the contract with Dynamis Energy this morning. The decision releases both the county and the Eagle-based company from any potential legal action, and means the county’s $2 million loan to the company will not be repaid.
The vote came after more than two years of public outcry over the proposed waste-to-energy plant at the county’s landfill.
Citizen groups have long questioned the environmental validity of a plant that would gasify waste – including tires and plastic waste. Members of the public have also raised red flags around the issue of transparency, as this morning was the first time the Ada County commissioners took public comment on the Dynamis project. Today's vote represents a victory for those groups.
Commissioner Rick Yzaguirre sat on the board when the contract with Dynamis was signed. But today, he voted to end the project he helped to start.
“Obviously it’s been a good learning experience for all of us, in how we manage the process," Yzaguirre says. "For me in my mind, the $2 million is significant. I’m disappointed that we couldn’t recover part of that. But when we looked at all the other variables involved in recovering it and the time and money and effort and public anguish, we concluded it was just better to end it.”
When asked by reporters if he has any regrets about how the Dynamis project was handled, Yzaguirre says the board could have done more to understand the potential environmental effects of the proposed plant. But Yzaguirre says when the project was presented in 2010, it seemed like a good idea. Promises of local job creation and innovative green energy were two of the lures.
“I was just excited about an opportunity to do something new and creative at the landfill at the time," says Yzaguirre. "And I’m not a technical person. Again, I’ve always pushed the blame to – not the blame – but the responsibility to the DEQ [Department of Environmental Quality]. At the end of the day, that worked out too – they haven’t gotten a draft air permit.”
Commissioner Dave Case and Jim Tibbs weren’t on the board when the project went through in 2010. But since the November election, they put dissolving the Dynamis contract at the top of their list.
“This brings to an end a very long and controversial project. We’re just glad that we were able to put an end to it," says Tibbs. "Dynamis and Ada County will go their separate way, happily I think on both sides.”
Tibbs says that with the Dynamis issue behind them, the commission will turn its focus to other issues. But he says the commission will keep transparency and fiscal responsibility in the forefront as it moves on to other business.
“I don’t think the commissioners have ever been against waste-to-energy, the concept," says Tibbs. "Because there are working plants out there. But as a practical matter, before you start to engage in a process like that you need to make sure that all of the stakeholders are involved.”
He says he doesn’t see the current commission pursuing any new proposals at the landfill.
“This has been a two-year process, we need to let it set for a while," Tibbs says. "The decision to separate Dynamis and Ada County – we’ll give it some time. But we’re going to continue moving forward.”
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