Caliente citizen Steve Culverwell, an outspoken opponent of Vortex Power, Inc., out of Shelbyville, Indiana, and their proposed plan to bring a waste-to-energy business to Lincoln County, has called Vortex, along with the parent company, Van Natta Worldwide, and Pegasus Energy, Inc., “a paper company.”
He made the comments during the county commission meeting where he was on the agenda to make a presentation.
He said in doing his research he has not been able to find any reliable scientific evidence for the claims the company is making. “They have no history. I can find nothing where they have ever sold a product and no solid data to back up their claims. No public records of profits, etc., it’s just all a paper tiger.”
After a lengthy presentation to the members of the board, others in the audience voiced similar concerns that accepting the deal with Vortex and Van Natta Worldwide might result in the county “being swindled.”
Culverwell has said one of his main concerns is that a Vortex plant would put too much pollution, albeit very, very fine particles, into the air of the Caliente area. He said Vortex claims of being able to burn 100 percent with no residue is not backed by established scientific facts.
He said even the inventor of the incinerator system Vortex wants to build to burn nearly anything, especially biomass fuel, will not work the way Vortex and Pegasus Power claims it will.
Culverwell said inventor Ren Jolla, of Shelbyville, has told him in conversations, “You cannot burn all materials without sorting. A separate incinerator would be needed for biomass, a separate one for tires, a separate one for solid municipal wastes, etc.”
Culverwell said he believes that such a biomass waste-to-energy biomass system, “If it is engineered right and the right testing, it’s a possibility, a good thing. Whether or not Van Natta Worldwide can do it, I have my doubts. Mr. Jolla said Van Natta doesn’t have the technology to produce such an incinerator.”
Among the documents and materials Culverwell presented were letters that showed Vortex was trying to apply to the U.S. Patent Office for patents on the same pieces of equipment that had previously been denied. All that was being done, Culverwell believed, was that the name and a few key words were simply changed from the original patents, which had already been denied.
Recently, the City of Caliente, where the incinerator was to be located, decided to table a letter of support to Vortex power, because all the members of the council were not present to hear the pros and cons of the proposal, and no action was taken.
On a related matter, the creation of a 318 district, it was stated at the beginning of the meeting that Van Natta Worldwide had withdrawn their request for a 318 district.
Commissioners had stated earlier they were hesitant regarding the request, “because a 318 district has pretty significant powers, to tax and borrow money, etc., unless in the creation of the district certain restrictions are clearly spelled out.”
Another concern commissioners had voiced about such a district, and sponsored by a governmental agency, such as Lincoln County, would leave the county responsible for the industrial bonds if the company failed.