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Ada County to seek return of $2M from Dynamis

Ada County commissioners are seeking the return of $2 million from a company it hired to design a waste-to-energy plant that’s now the subject of a lawsuit, an investigation by a former FBI agent and opposition from some of the region’s residents.

The Idaho Statesman reports the three commissioners voted unanimously Nov. 14 to trigger a contract clause requiring Dynamis Energy LLC to return the money given the company in 2010 to design a 22-megawat garbage gasifier. The money comes from tipping fees at the local dump.

Dynamis plans to build, own and operate the plant, which county officials hope will turn garbage to energy and eliminate the need for costly expansion of the Ada County landfill. Once the plant’s design was complete, it was supposed to buy back its design plans from the county for $2 million.

Last week, however, a citizens group sued the county, claiming the $2 million amounts to a loan and the county is forbidden to loan money to businesses. What’s more, a retired FBI agent, Verna Kessler, is investigating a complaint over alleged irregularities in a contract between local government officials and Dynamis.

No Dynamis representatives were present at the commission meeting where the three county leaders — commissioners David Case, Sharon Ullman and Rick Yzaguirre — voted to ask for the county’s money to be returned.

Lloyd Mahaffey, Dynamis’ owner, didn’t return a phone call Nov. 15 from The Associated Press.

Yzaguirre and Ullman have been proponents of the project, while Case has raised objections.

Meanwhile, the company is still trying to win an emissions permit from Idaho environmental regulators.

Idaho Department of Environmental Quality officials say they don’t know when the agency will issue a draft permit for public review because the agency still needs additional technical information from Dynamis to complete the application review.

Last week, Idaho Citizens for Safe Environment and Transparent Government sued Ada County over the project. Included in the complaint is a claim that the $2 million the county gave Dynamis constitutes a loan, and it is illegal for counties to loan money to businesses.

As the commissioners voted Nov. 14 to ask for the money back, they also laid the groundwork for their lawsuit defense by voting to hire the law firm Hawley Troxell to defend the county against that suit.

Dynamis is supposed to begin supply Idaho Power Co. with electricity in 2014.

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