PORTLAND, Maine — The company seeking to build a $240 million biorefinery in East Millinocket has reached a settlement to buy the property, which it expects to close by early June.
The buyer, EMEP LLC, said in court filings that it has reached a deal with the property owner, North American Recovery Management, which it expects will close within 60 days.
Until then, both sides have asked the court to put all proceedings on hold regarding EMEP’s complaint that it negotiated the right to buy the property for $1.75 million. The court approved that motion Friday and lifted restrictions on the buyer selling the property.
The notice of the settlement did not include any details about the terms of the agreement, and an attorney representing the buyer declined to comment.
A settlement would resolve EMEP’s claims it had a valid and enforceable contract to negotiate the purchase of the property and NARM’s counterclaim that the lawsuit prevented it from marketing the property to other buyers.
Thimi Mina, an attorney representing the buyer, in early April wrote that the counterclaim “seems to be more of a strategic exercise” as a way to “get a better deal than the one it agreed to last year.”
In the motion to postpone all scheduled hearings in the case and lift the temporary restraining order preventing sale of the property, attorneys for both sides wrote that “the parties have mutually agreed to a settlement that will close within 60 days.”
Securing the land is the next key step for EMEP in pursuing its plans for a $240 million biorefinery that would make combustible fuels from wood using technology under development by the oil giant Shell.
EMEP has other business in the state as well. The company is a joint venture of the wood-to-energy company Stored Solar, which operates two biomass generation plants in West Enfield and Jonesboro. Stored Solar partnered with Scott Gardner, who runs the trucking, logging and wood chip company W.T. Gardner and Sons, on the East Millinocket project.
Stored Solar’s biomass plants operate with the promise of subsidies from Maine taxpayers, but a company representative said in early April that its future projects won’t require any additional aid from state government or local taxpayers.
The company plans to finance its East Millinocket project with a combination of private investment and a loan backed by the U.S. Department of Energy, which it said in court documents would support about 70 percent of the cost.
The company has said securing the property in East Millinocket is key to advancing the project and its application for the loan guarantee. It also plans to build out what it calls “bioenergy parks” at the biomass plants it owns and potentially others in the state.