PASCO -- The Port of Pasco has decided it is done dealing with Green Power and refused a $90,000 check from the company Thursday to prove it.
The Pasco biomass company had until Tuesday to come up with rent and an additional deposit to regain its Pasco port location. The port evicted the company in September for nonpayment of rent. The eviction followed a state Department of Ecology order to close the plant because the company didn't have required air quality permits.
Green Power and owner Michael Spitzauer had until the end of the day Tuesday to pay and did not, according to port Executive Director Jim Toomey.
Spitzauer came to the Pasco Port Commission meeting Tuesday with the signed lease, but no cashier's check. Spitzauer offered to write a check on the spot, but the port accepts only cash or cashier's checks from Spitzauer, Toomey said, because of past problems with bad checks.
The commission then voted to stop business dealings with Green Power.
"The commission had shown a great deal of patience, but the patience ran out," Toomey said. "It's just too many missed deadlines. There is a long history of missed dates, court appearances and rent chasing."
On Wednesday, the port sent Spitzauer an e-mail and letter saying it would "terminate the offer to lease extended to Green Power Inc., and refuse any monies for future rent or additional deposit from Green Power Inc."
Spitzauer said Thursday that he wasn't giving up.
"We still want to work to get this lease in place," Spitzauer said. "My lawyers are talking to the port to get this lease issue resolved. We have fulfilled all obligations to be there."
Spitzauer said bad weather kept him from having the cashier's check to the port on time. He had to drive to Seattle to get the check from his bank, he said, and icy roads delayed him. The company already has paid $147,000 in deposit -- money the port still has, he said.
Port Commissioner Bill Clark said the commissioners thought problems with the company were taking up too much staff time.
"We kind of have an obligation to the owners of the property -- the taxpayers," Clark said. "Jim told me he showed up with a check today (Thursday). And it's just his M.O. A day. A week. A month. We're just not going to put the staff through this anymore."
Green Power has developed a process to turn municipal garbage into fuel. But Spitzauer and his company faces more than $18 million in lawsuits in Benton, Franklin and King counties.
The company also has had numerous complaints to the state Department of Labor and Industries for failure to pay employees or paying them with bad checks. Court records show outstanding tax warrants for money the company owes in unemployment taxes and industrial insurance for employees.
The Department of Ecology ordered the plant to shut down Aug. 5 because it did not have a required permit for a synthetic fuel reactor the state said could emit "harmful toxic air pollution."
He still owes the state a $24,000 fine, officials said.
Spitzauer said that shutdown has hurt his business.
"I had the issue with Ecology ...," Spitzauer said. "We have enough certified orders from around the world and in the U.S."
Spitzauer said if his attorney can't get the Port of Pasco to lease to him, he would have to move the company. Instead, he said he would like to get going at the port location and hire 300 to 500 workers.
"This plant cost us a lot of money to build, and it would cost millions to move," Spitzauer said.
The port now faces months of figuring out who owns the equipment in the buildings. Toomey said there have been some court judgments awarding property to creditors, and the port has to figure it all out.
There is another port tenant who is interested in expanding into one of the buildings, Toomey said, which could mean $8,000 a month in rent.
* Cathy Kessinger: 509-582-1535; firstname.lastname@example.org