Blog Archive

Who is Tony Sharma and what is his role with Baard?

Mar 13, 2020 12:24 PM

COLUMBUS — A new figure has entered the Baard Energy story: Kautilya “Tony” Sharma. The first time Tony Sharma’s name appeared in the Baard documents, obtained by public records requests, was on October 12, 2010. That day, Baard Vice President Steve Dopuch wrote, “Tony has asked to set up an 11:00 AM conference call tomorrow,” in a message to Baard CEO John Baardson, Baard Vice President Craig Conner, Columbiana County Port Authority CEO Tracy Drake, Tony Sharma, and Perian Salviola, identified by Baard as the owner of Planck Trading.

The documents show the following happened the next day:

9:48 AM: Tracy Drake wrote Baardson, Dopuch and Conner.

At our Board meeting this afternoon, we’ll be ready to authorize the MOU [Memorandum of Understanding] with Tony. I’ll need Tony’s information asap to put into the MOU. To educate the public, please prepare a press release the outlines the relationship between Tony and Baard Energy. Also, I’d like to have you and Tony call in at 3:15 to discuss the matter with my Executive Committee.

1:48 PM: Steve Dopuch wrote Glenda Schaefer of the Port Authority that the signatory for the Memorandum of Understanding would be Perian Salviola of Planck Trading.

2:51 PM: Steve Dopuch wrote, “John, Tony, me and possibly Craig” would be calling into a conference call at 3:15 PM.

No press release was issued and there has been no mention of Mr. Sharma in subsequent public statements by Drake, Dopuch or Baardson.

The documents don’t explain why, in the morning, the Memorandum of Understanding was planned to be with Tony Sharma, but by the afternoon it had changed to Perian Salviola. Nor why, if the relationship was to be with Salviola, she wasn’t on the conference call to discuss it rather than Sharma. Nor why none of the spokespeople have mentioned Sharma since.

In 2004, the federal government prosecuted Mr. Sharma for securities fraud. After he was arrested, Judge James Hopkins ordered Sharma held without bail as a flight risk, accepting the prosecutor’s arguments, including the following:

The Government noted that the case involves approximately $7.6 million in stock loans, and that over $5 million in proceeds went to the Defendant, his family or his business entities. The Government also proffered that the Defendant has bank accounts and businesses located offshore, in the Bahamas and India, and that much of the proceeds from the stock loan transactions was transferred to these offshore accounts and businesses, including to an uncle in India. Moreover, the Government notes that the Defendant has stated in the past that if he ever got into trouble, all he had to do was hit the doors of the New Delhi airport, where he could easily obtain a fraudulent death certificate and disappear. The Defendant has also stated that he can always get the money he needs for his companies, that he has extensive familial and political ties to India, and that his wife’s family is worth over $150 million. The Defendant had planned to travel to India to set up more companies during the weekend of May 15, 2004; however, he was taken into custody before he had the opportunity to leave. The Defendant is reportedly closing his businesses, including Geek Securities, and his employees are either leaving or not getting paid. The Defendant is also alleged to be four (4) months behind in his mortgage payments, and his children have been sent to live with relatives.

In the end, Tony Sharma pled guilty and on October 18, 2004, was sentenced to 58 months imprisonment, followed by 3 years supervised release. Among the conditions for his release was the following:

The defendant shall not be engaged in any business that offers securities, investments, or business opportunities to the public. . . .The defendant shall not own, operate, act as a consultant, be employed in, or participate in any manner as a broker-dealer, equity trader, financial and operational principal, general securities principal, general securities registered representative, options principal or financial advisor during the period of supervision.

If Mr. Sharma is still under supervised release, it is not clear whether his signing the Memorandum of Understanding would have violated this condition, nor whether his current role with Baard would violate it.

 Paul Ryder, Organizing Director, Ohio Citizen Action

Something's fishy in Columbiana County

Mar 06, 2020 5:22 PM

CLEVELAND — Baard Energy’s claims that it has lined up financing for its coal refinery in Columbiana County are highly questionable, based on an analysis of the timeline of recent events:

September 20 – Columbiana County Port Authority Director Tracy Drake reports that the Ohio Department of Development is likely to grant a three-month extension, to the end of the year, of a $4.5 million state loan for acquisition of the property for the coal refinery.

Week of September 21 – Wellsville Chamber of Commerce announces that Baard Energy CEO John Baardson will be the keynote speaker at their annual dinner on October 23 and will report to the community on the progress of his project.

September 27 – U.S. District Court in Cincinnati rules that Baard Energy has defaulted on over $220,000 owed to CH2MHill for consulting work on the coal refinery project.

October 4—Christopher Jones, former head of Ohio EPA, who had been hired by Baard in July after another law firm dropped the case, abruptly withdraws as Baard’s attorney at the Environmental Review Appeals Commission (ERAC). Baardson later admits to the Columbus Dispatch that the attorneys withdrew because he couldn’t pay them.

October 6 – Ohio Attorney General, representing Ohio EPA, asks ERAC for extension of the permit hearing schedule and states, “Due to the abrupt withdrawal of counsel, the status of the permit and the underlying need for the permit are unknown.”

October 6 – Ohio Department of Development sends Port Authority a letter extending the loan, not three months, but to October 31, saying “the closing date will not be further extended.”

October 18 – Columbiana County Port Authority Director Tracy Drake announces that Baard has a new investor, Planck Trading LLC, who will pay the required $220,000 to extend the purchase options on the property (which had expired on September 30), and that the Port Authority was entering into an agreement with Planck to buy the land “over the next year.” The agreement did not require Planck to purchase the land. Drake says the Port Authority will forgo the $4.5 million state loan/grant for the Baard project and ask the state to apply it to another local project.

October 23 – Baard Energy CEO John Baardson tells the Wellsville Chamber of Commerce that he has secured a commitment of $2.5 billion in investment and that he plans to start purchasing land in two weeks and begin construction in the spring.

Press coverage of the event features Baard supporters U.S. Congressman Charlie Wilson, and State Rep. Linda Bolon, who are in tough re-election campaigns, front and center.

October 25 – Baard misses an ERAC deadline to come up with a new legal counsel to replace Christopher Jones to defend the critically important air pollution permit (as of November 5, Baard has still not come up with an attorney)

November 2 – Governor Ted Strickland, Rep. Charlie Wilson, and Rep. Linda Bolon all lose their bids for re-election


It’s just common sense, and common practice, that if Mr. Baardson knew in late September or early October that he had an investor who was prepared to spend “$2.5 billion” on the project, or even the $5 million to acquire the land for the project, he would have been able to convince his attorney, Christopher Jones, former head of Ohio EPA, to remain on the case. The project will not be able to move forward if the air permit has expired, as attorneys for Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club are contending in the legal case.

Mr. Baardson and Mr. Drake announced in mid-October that they would let the state loan expire. Of course, they had already been told it would expire by October 31 if Baard didn’t come up with financing by then. Since the state loan would have converted to a grant if a certain number of construction jobs were created, it seems quite unusual that either the Port Authority or Baard Energy would want to turn down $4.5 million in “free” taxpayer money. Perhaps they were just putting a good face on the fact that they were unable to meet the loan requirements. If Mr. Baardson really had funding lined up by October 23, wouldn’t he or his investors want to save $4.5 million?

One possible explanation for recent events is that Mr. Baardson does not intend to build a coal refinery, but may intend to build something else—perhaps a natural gas plant—on the land in question. If so, he wouldn’t need the coal refinery air permit and he might need much less land than would be required for a coal refinery. The timing of his Wellsville Chamber of Commerce appearance certainly seems to have been geared toward bolstering the re-election campaigns of Baard’s staunch supporters, but that effort was unsuccessful.

 Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director, Ohio Citizen Action

Is Baard’s investor, Planck Trading, really a front for India’s JSW Steel?

Mar 06, 2020 5:10 PM

COLUMBUS — On October 18, Tracy Drake, Columbiana County Port Authority CEO, announced that Baard Energy had “found a Florida-based investment firm to put up the money to purchase the property [for a proposed coal refinery]…  [Planck Trading LLC of Boca Raton, Florida] intended to pay the estimated $5 million to close on the option agreements instead of the port authority. “According to documents provided by Drake, Planck Trading is owned by Perian Salviola, who led a group of investors in acquiring more than 100 million tons of high quality metallurgical reserves, which were sold to a leading steel producer in India. Salviola and his partners currently own one of the coal industry’s premier high-wall mining companies in West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia. They also own coal reserves in Kentucky.”

Then, six days later, Baard Energy CEO John Baardson inflated Planck’s investment by a factor of 500, according to WKBN-TV Youngstown: “Just this week, a Florida company invested $2.5 billion to help Baard buy more than 500 acres just off State Route 7, bringing the $6-billion plant and thousands of jobs, one step closer to reality.” Baardson said a groundbreaking is planned for spring.

Planck turns out to be a nest of companies:

Planck Trading Solutions

Planck Trading Solutions, incorporated by Perian Salviola on December 18, 2008, is at 5301 N Federal Hwy, Suite 380, Boca Raton, FL 33487.

Planck Holdings

Plank Holdings, incorporated by Perian Salviola on April 9, 2009, was at the same address, Suite 380. On August 19, 2010, there was a merger of “Planck Holdings LLC, a non-qualified Florida organization with and into Planck Holdings LLC, a qualified West Virginia Limited Liability Company, the survivor,” according to the West Virginia Secretary of State. The new address for Planck Holdings is 407 Prosperity Road, Beckley WV 25801.

The “organizer” of the merger was W. Christopher Schaeper, Thompson and Knight law firm, 333 Clay Street, Suite 3300, Houston, Texas 77002. Schaeper’s bio says he “represented a New Delhi-based conglomerate of steel companies in the $1 billion sale of three U.S. companies and related assets that owned and operated a steel plate mill, large diameter pipe mill, and double jointing mill in Baytown, Texas, to the U.S. affiliate of another global steel concern based in Mumbai, India.” This sounds like the Jindal South West (JSW) Steel mill in Baytown. Mumbai-based Jindal bought the pipe mill in 1992 and the plate mill in 1997. The two managers of the merged company are listed as Sandeep Agarwal, at the Beckley address, and Perian Salviola, at the Boca Raton address. The phone number is (713) 653-8804, which is the Thompson and Knight law firm. Sandeep Agarwal is a Deputy General Manager for Finance and Administration at JSW Steel in the Charleston, WV area, according to his Linked-In profile.

Periama Holdings

Periama Holdings was registered in West Virginia on July 21, 2009. Its address is 407 Prosperity Road, Prosperity (Beckley), West Virginia 25909. Its manager is Sandeep Agarwal, at the Prosperity address. Its organizer is Perian Salviola at the Boca Raton address. The LookupBook listing for this firm shows the same Boca Raton address, but a Martin P. Sheehan as the contact.

Prime Coal

Prime Coal was registered in West Virginia on September 23, 2009 at the Prosperity WV address. Its manager is Sandeep Agarwal, at the Prosperity address. Its organizer is Perian Salviola at the Boca Raton address. In the LookupBook listing, Martin P. Sheehan is listed as the contact. Prime Coal was registered in Kentucky on April 1, 2009, with its principal office listed at the Boca Raton address, Suite 380. On May 5, 2010, it filed an address change to Suite 600 in the same building. Perian Salviola is named its managing member. On June 3, 2009, Perian Salviola applied for authorization for Prime Coal to transact business in Florida at the Boca Raton address. On September 24, 2010, the State of Florida revoked its authorization for failure to submit an annual report.

Prime Solar

Incorporated in December 2007 by Perian Salviola at the same Boca Raton address. It changed its name on May 19, 2008, to International Energy Solutions, Inc.

JSW Steel and coal refineries

On Sep 10, 2008, The Economic Times of New Delhi reported on a “bandwagon of companies setting up projects to convert coal into oil.” It said that JSW was in the race for a coal-to-liquids project led by Oil India.

On March 7, 2009, Jindal Steel announced that the Government of India had allotted the Ramchandi Promotional Coal Block to Jindal for a proposed coal-to-liquid project. Another coal block went to Tata Sons-Sasol for a similar project. Jindal says it will invest “close to USD 8.4 billion” on the project.

September 29, 2010: “Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) appears to land up in a new trouble. The coal ministry has discovered that the firm is not utilizing several coal blocks allocated to them. The ministry is of the view these coal blocks continue to remain idle and hence they should be taken away. JSPL had bagged the Rs. 45,000-crore project for converting coal to liquid fuel (or CTL) in 2009. Since then, the massive Ramchandi coal block in Orissa meant for the project is lying idle. Sources say, the coal ministry has opined for the de-allocation of the block… Project of converting coal into liquid fuel could have been one of the solutions to address India’s growing energy needs. But even before the project could take off, it is on the verge of a crash landing. And now JSPL will have to do something drastic to save the project as coal ministry is really not convinced that any work has been underway in the coal mines since it was allotted to JSPL,” according to New Delhi TV Profit.

Meanwhile, some Indians are raising familiar questions about investing in coal refineries.

JSW Steel and Massey Energy

On May 15, 2010, the Economic Times of India reported, “MUMBAI: JSW Steel, the Mumbai-based company which, like other metal-bashers from India, is aggressively scouting the world for raw material to feed its expanding steel-making capacities, on Friday completed the acquisition of nine coking coal mines in West Virginia in the US. It will pay in the range of $200-250 million (Rs 900-1,125 crore) for the mines, said people familiar with the development. The Sajjan Jindal-controlled steel company, which did not mention the name of the company that owns the mines, nor the size of the transaction, said the nine mines have combined reserves of 123 million tonnes. Coking coal is a key raw material for steel mills and accounts for 40% of the total cost of steel-making. Referring to the coal mines in West Virginia, a JSW Steel official said: “These mines have a railway load and barge facility which reduces the cost of production and transportation of the coking coal.”

On September 28, 2010, Massey Energy filed a $648 million federal lawsuit against JSW Steel: “Massey Sales and JSW are parties to a Coal Purchase and Sale Contract dated June 25, 2008. Pursuant to the Contract, Massey agreed to sell, and JSW agreed to buy, a minimum of 3,600,000 metric tons of hard coking coal… JSW breached a repudiated the Contract by failing and refusing to purchase any coal from Massey pursuant to the Contract.”

Oct 14, 2010: Bloomberg reported that JSW Steel Ltd is considering putting its overseas coal and iron ore assets into a unit for a share sale to fund expansion. Two people familiar with the plans said that the unit would control coal and iron ore mines in the US and Chile, as well as an exploration business in Mozambique. They said that JSW may list the unit in an overseas exchange without giving a timeframe. Mr. Andrew Harrington analyst of Paterson’s Securities Ltd said that a raw material spin off by an Indian company would be unusual and its success would depend on the asset location. Mr. Harrington said that “Except for Mozambique, it doesn’t sound as though these would be the most interesting areas for coal development. The trend out of India has been to acquire things overseas rather than sell them once they’ve been acquired.” JSW Steel bought seven coking coal mines in May in the US with reserves of about 123 million tonnes. In Chile, the company’s Bellavista iron ore mines, acquired in 2008, are likely to start production by December.

 Paul Ryder, Organizing Director, Ohio Citizen Action

Eight things you can do to stop the expansion of the Rumpke landfill

Mar 06, 2020 5:05 PM

1. Find out how to recycle in your area and recycle everything you can.

Most of the solid waste management agencies in our area have lots of information about curbside, business and drop-off options. You can also find out if household hazardous waste or electronics recycling is available nearby. Your town, village or city website should also have up-to-date information.  Here are a few places to start:

Greater Cincinnati can recycle the following items: All paper (except books with glue bindings and paper products contaminated with food residue), cardboard boxes (broken down into 3 foot sections), plastic bottles and jugs #1-7 (only containers with smaller mouths than bottoms), aluminum & steel cans and glass bottles and jars. Please do not try to recycle plastic tubs (like butter tubs), plastic grocery bags, food trays from frozen food, plastic or Styrofoam clamshells, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, glass tableware, plastic plates/cups/utensils.

2. Keep unwanted clothing, household goods, toys, construction and demolition waste out the landfill.

Set aside your unwanted reusable items until you can make a trip to a non-profit drop-off center like Goodwill, Salvation Army or Building Value. Sometimes you can even get a tax-deduction.

3. Compost your yard waste and food scraps.

You can create your own mulch or improve your soil by starting your own compost pile. If you prefer, some areas have yard waste drop off sites or even curbside collection. You can find more information on your county solid waste management website.

4. Reduce your household’s waste stream by making wise consumer choices.

Buying in bulk, reusable shopping bags and avoiding bottled water is just the beginning. Learn more at

5. Advocate for blocking the landfill expansion and improving recycling in your community.

Write to your city or village council, township trustees and county commissioners. Tell them they should oppose expansion of the landfill in Colerain Township and instead work to divert more waste through recycling improvements.  Hamilton County in particular offers Residential Recycling Incentive grants for communities to start or improve recycling programs and awards dollars based on participation. More information at

6. Recycle at work.

Local, state and federal grants are also available for commercial and industrial recycling programs and waste audits. Some areas offer technical assistance and materials exchanges that help one business’ trash become another’s raw material.

7. Spread the word about the need to transition away from landfills.

Letters to the editor, blogs, check-out line conversations and linking our website ( to your Facebook page are key ways to get people to think about their trash and their future.

8. Learn more about the international movement to transition away from landfills and garbage incinerators.

Baard: No refinery, but a few landowners pocket $805,500 in taxpayer money

Mar 06, 2020 3:30 PM

CLEVELAND — “A new report by Ohio Citizen Action shows that a handful of landowners in Columbiana County have collected a total of $805,500 in state funds for purchase options on land for a plant that may never be built. The land owned by the individuals is the proposed site of the controversial Baard Energy coal refinery. The Columbiana County Port Authority has negotiated a series of deals with the 17 landowners to purchase the property for the project. Ohio Citizen Action has obtained copies of these agreements and related documents through public records requests. The deals vary widely, with individuals receiving different benefits and a range of advance payments.

If the project is cancelled, some landowners will make out much better than others.

The top individual recipient, David McCourt, will keep $260,000, and two others, George Yaney and Mike Pusateri Excavating, will keep $175,000 each. Other recipients have received anywhere from $12,000 to $55,000. Certain recipients have already received a very high percentage of the eventual purchase price in up front payments – up to 71%, while others have received as low as 2.4% of the payments up front.

At various stages of the renewals, the Port Authority has sweetened the deals for the landowners – by increasing the purchase prices, allowing them to keep the payments for the purchase options without crediting them toward the eventual purchase price, and making cash payments of varied amounts in different individual negotiations.

 Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director, Ohio Citizen Action

Baard Energy coming up short on state loan requirements

Mar 06, 2020 3:09 PM

COLUMBUS — A $4.5 million state loan for the Baard Energy coal refinery project, due to lapse on June 30, contains conditions that Baard Energy appears not to be able to meet. If Baard’s partner, the Columbiana County Port Authority, decided it wanted to close on the loan, it couldn’t legally do so.

The State’s original loan offer contained the following requirement:

“Borrower will invest $91,711,143 in [the Project, namely] the acquisition and site preparation of 525 acres of land . . . . Borrower must finance a minimum of 25% of the total project costs prior to loan proceeds being disbursed.”

The “Borrower” is the Columbiana County Port Authority. Twenty-five percent of $91,711,143 would be $22,927,785.

On August 8, 2009, Port Authority CEO Tracy Drake wrote State officials as follows:

Baard will receive approximately $8 million in equity investment in September, 2009 (which when combined with Baard’s to date investment of over $9 million, totals over $17 million). We hereby request that this amount be accepted as satisfying the minimum total pre-project financing requirement contained in the Term Sheet for disbursement of loan proceeds (previous minimum requirement was 25% of the CCP anticipated bond financing).

This would lower the pre-loan financing requirement from 25% to 18.5%.

The asserted Baard investment of “over $9 million,” however, was spending that had nothing to do with the project supported by the loan, according to a Baard Energy official. The spending was detailed in a November 17, 2008 memo by Baard Vice President Stephen Dopuch:

Baard has already invested approximately $10 MM in the development of ORCF [Baard’s Ohio River Clean Fuels coal refinery] project including site evaluations, feasibility engineering, market studies, coal studies, engineering, and other work related to plant permitting, as well as CO2 sequestration and enhanced oil recovery feasibility studies.

None of these activities support the loan project, “the acquisition and site preparation of 525 acres of land.” This means that the Port Authority was really asking State officials to accept only the “$8 million in equity investment in September, 2009” as the pre-loan financing requirement. $8 million would be only 8.7% of the total project costs.

State officials accepted these proposed changes. As of April 15, 2010, however, Baard Energy had failed to reach even this lowered standard.

In August 2009, Baard went on the market looking for $8 million in investment. As of April 15, 2010, only $1.4 million had been sold, according to a Baard Energy filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

As of that date, then, and assuming all $1.4 million would be invested in the site acquisition and preparation project, Baard could only show that it had raised 1.24% of the total site project costs.

 Paul Ryder, Organizing Director, Ohio Citizen Action

Is Baard Energy a woman-owned business enterprise?

Mar 06, 2020 2:54 PM

COLUMBUS – In applying for State money for the Baard Energy coal refinery last year, the Columbiana County Port Authority told development officials, “. . . Baard Energy is a woman owned business enterprise (WBE).” The phrase “woman owned business enterprise” is important in applying for State funding because of the priority given to fostering women- and minority-owned businesses.

Governments and third-party agencies have developed specific criteria for defining a woman-owned business to eliminate sham-operations. In such cases, the CEO of a male-run company, in an effort to qualify for certain contracts, will appoint his wife as the President but in name only. While she has the title, she does not have the authority to control or manage the company.

What about Baard Energy?

  • According to State of Washington records, Baard’s owners are Kathie Baardson and John Baardson. Their ownership shares are not listed. Baard Energy is not certified in Washington State as a woman-owned firm. The certification criteria in Washington are as follows:

To be eligible the firm must demonstrate that at least 51% of the firm is legitimately owned by eligible persons. The owner(s) must provide documentary proof of the contributions and/or expenditures made to gain that ownership. The eligible owner(s) must make a “real, substantial, and continuing” contribution to the business and proportionally share in the risks and profits of the business. Ownership must not be merely “in name only”. Married women are not excluded from the state or federal programs. The eligible owner(s) must actually control the day-to-day operations of the business and have the legal authority and the technical ability to manage the firm’s critical operations. The eligible owner(s) must actually participate in the business. Accounting, personnel, office management, or legal experience is not considered “technical expertise” unless this is the field of the firm’s operations.

  • Baard is not certified in Ohio as a woman-owned firm. Ohio’s criteria are similar to Washington’s, except that the owner also has to live in Ohio, which Kathie Baardson does not.
  • Baard Energy is not certified as a woman-owned business in Delaware, where the company was incorporated in 2005. Nor could it be. “An out of state company must first be certified in its home state before it can be considered for certification in Delaware.” Since Baard Energy is not certified in the State of Washington, it cannot be in Delaware.

Does Baard Energy meet the criteria for a woman-owned business? Given the benefits of certification, if Baard Energy met the criteria, why wouldn’t it have applied for it? And since it is not certified, why is its partner, the Columbiana County Port Authority, telling state authorities that it is a ‘woman-owned business enterprise’?

— Paul Ryder, Organizing Director, Ohio Citizen Action

What is Baard Energy's track record?

Mar 06, 2020 2:45 PM

COLUMBUS — Baard Energy wants investors to give them $6.8 billion so they can build a coal refinery in Wellsville, Ohio. Potential investors will want to know if Baard Energy can pull off a project of that size. What is Baard’s actual track record with these developments? Ohio Citizen Action took a closer look at Baard’s track record, by examining each of the projects described in the company’s 2010 application to the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority. Here’s what they said, and what we found:

Baard Energy’s Ohio River Clean Fuels, LLC, application to the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority states:

Baard and its affiliated companies has over 20 years of experience in the design, development, and construction of a variety of energy projects, including natural gas powered electric generating facilities, ethanol production plants, biodiesel production plants, and coal to liquids projects. . .

Experienced Developer: Baard has developed and constructed seven alternative energy projects over the past 20 years. Baard developed an 88 million gallon per year Ethanol plant in Ravenna, Nebraska, and a 55 million per year Ethanol plant in Coshocton, Ohio. A third 100 million gallon per year ethanol development in Iowa is fully permitted and financing is currently being completed. Baard successfully developed over 1,200 MW of electrical generation at four separate facilities in the last twenty years and built a retail electric marketing business in Michigan, Illinois, and Texas.

A slide in the application lists Baard Company Credentials, as follows:

Baard Generation LLC
20 years experience in the development of power plants in the USA & Canada:

Three 16 MW wood-fired QF projects, Michigan and Pennsylvania

· Windsor Power – 110 MW Natural Gas

· South Point AZ – 550 MW Natural Gas

· Wyandotte MI – 572 MW Natural Gas

Baard Renewables LLC

Develops ethanol and biodiesel facilties in the USA

· Ravenna, NE – 88 million gallons/yr

· Coshocton, OH – 55 million gallons/yr

Baard Clean Fuels LLC

Fischer-Tropsch Project Developer

· Wellsville, OH – 53,100 bpd FT project under development

Here are Ohio Citizen Action’s findings:

Baard Generation LLC

Of the companies listed in this section, the three small wood-fired power plants were apparently sold by Baard in 1987, over 20 years ago. We do not know if these are still operating, but at most they represent 48 MW of electric generation.

Of the three natural gas plants listed, the two in Windsor, Ontario, which Baard sold in 1995, and South Point Arizona, which Baard sold in 1998, appear to be operating.

Baard describes the third plant, in Wyandotte, Michigan plant on its website: “Developed by Baard from 1997 to 2000. Sold by Baard in 2000.” What the website doesn’t say is that the project was sold to Mirant Zeeland, a company which went bankrupt in 2003. According to the Michigan Public Service Commission, this plant never became operational (phone conversation, 4/7/10). During the bankruptcy, Mirant sold two turbines from the Wyandotte plant to Xcel Energy, who shipped them to a plant in St. Paul. (Mirant 2006 10-Q filing, Securities and Exchange Commission).

Thus, Baard’s statement in its Ohio Air Quality Development Authority application that “Baard successfully developed over 1,200 MW of electrical generation at four separate facilities in the last twenty years” appears to be highly questionable, since the Michigan plant, the biggest of the three natural gas plants, apparently never generated one watt of electricity.

Baard Renewables LLC

Baard mentions three ethanol plants in its application.

The first is in Ravenna, Nebraska. Baard sold this plant in 2004 to Abengoa Bioenergy. The plant went on-line in 2007 and is currently operating (phone conversation with plant, 3/31/10). In 2007, the C.J. Schneider company sued Baard Renewables and its related companies and owner for copyright infringement, saying that designs for the plant had been copied and used unlawfully. The lawsuit was settled but the terms have not been made public.

The second plant listed is Coshocton Ethanol. Baard’s website currently says the following about the plant: “Developed by Baard from 2003 to 2006. Sold by Baard in 2006. Commercial operation anticipated in 2008.”

Baard sold the Coshocton plant to Altra Biofuels, a California company. The plant went on-line in February 2008, but, according to the Coshocton Tribune, “By December 2008, almost all of the employees had been laid off” (“Money still being sought from ethanol plant,” Coshocton Tribune, March 6, 2010). A skeleton maintenance crew has been retained at the plant, which is now mired in a series of lawsuits for unpaid bills. In 2009, a federal court ordered Coshocton Ethanol to pay $10 million to The Industrial Company, which oversaw the plant’s construction, and a lawsuit by Integrys Energy Services is ongoing. According to press reports, the Coshocton Ethanol plant also owes $7 million to the City of Coshocton, which had taken out loans from the Ohio Water Quality Development Authority for the ethanol plant.

The Ohio Air Quality Development Authority had issued taxable revenue bonds to finance this plant in 2007, with Morgan Stanley as the placement agent. Because the bonds were apparently sold through private placement, Ohio Citizen Action does not know whether the project may have defaulted on the bonds or whether they were insured.

The third plant mentioned in the application is a proposed plant in Hinton, Iowa, known as the Floyd Valley Ethanol plant. In the February 2010 application, Baard says, “A third 100 million gallon per year ethanol development in Iowa is fully permitted and financing is currently being completed.”

By November 2009, three months before Baard submitted its new application to the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority, Iowa Economic Development Board Due Diligence committee voted to terminate its contract with Floyd Valley Ethanol because “Floyd Valley Ethanol LLC indicates they have discontinued the project and would like to terminate the contract.”

Based on this evidence, we believe that Baard’s claim in the 2010 Ohio Air Quality Development Authority application that the Hinton project is “fully permitted and financing is currently being completed,” could be a false statement.

Baard’s summary of its accomplishments in its 2010 application also refers to “biodiesel plants,” although no biodiesel plants are listed or referenced anywhere else in the application. However, Baard’s 2006 application to the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority did list a biodiesel project in the “Credentials” slide, as follows:

♦ Angelina LA Biodiesel – 100 million gallons/yr

Ohio Citizen Action has not been able to find any information on this plant, either on Baard’s website or anywhere else. The website of Altra Biofuels, which purchased the Coschocton Ethanols plant, refers briefly to a similarly-named “Angeleno Group” as an “investor,” although there is no mention of any specific plant. Presumably, Baard dropped the reference to “Angelina LA Biodiesel” in the 2010 application because it never materialized — this raising the question of whether Baard can back up its 2010 claim to “experience in the design, development, and construction of … biodiesel production plants.

In general, Baard appears to consider a project “successful” if Baard was able to sell it to someone else before it became operational, rather than if the plant did what it was intended to do. Even using this criteria, Baard’s last “successful” project (Coshocton Ethanol) was sold in 2006. Baard also announced two other Ohio projects in 2004 and 2005 that never materialized. These two plants were at first proposed as Integrated Coal gasification and Combined Cycle plants, then were changed to Fischer-Tropsch liquids plants with the names Ashtabula Clean Fuels LLC and Coschocton Clean Fuels LLC.

 Sandy Buchanan, Executive Director, Ohio Citizen Action

The arithmetic shows coal-to-liquid refineries can’t make U.S. more energy independent

Mar 06, 2020 2:38 PM

COLUMBUS — “Baard Energy says its proposed coal-to-liquid refinery for Wellsville will help the United States become more more energy independent. Sounds great, but the arithmetic doesn’t work. Let’s start at the refinery level. Typically, for every one ton of coal fed into a refinery using this technology, two barrels of liquid fuel come out the other end, according to a U.S. Department of Energy study. The Baard Energy proposal is no exception. They say they will use 9.3 million tons of coal a year to produce 53,000 barrels a day of liquid fuel. That works out to 2.08 barrels per ton of coal.

1 ton of coal = 2 barrels of fuel

Now back to energy independence. Imported crude oil is about 60% of U.S. consumption. What would it take, using the coal-to-liquids technology, to displace just 10% of U.S. oil consumption? It would require a 42% increase in U.S. coal production, or 475 million tons more coal every year, to run these refineries, according to a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

This is simply not going to happen. People will not stand for it,” Paul Ryder, Organizing Director, Ohio Citizen Action.

Three questions for Baard Energy CEO John Baardson

Mar 06, 2020 2:36 PM

COLUMBUS — On December 22, 2008, John Baardson, CEO Baard Energy, analyzed the prospects for financing a coal refinery in Wellsville in a loan guarantee application to the U.S. Department of Energy:

Debt markets in chaos
In today’s environment, there is no debt available to projects like Ohio River Clean Fuels [the coal refinery]. Debt markets are essentially closed to all large-scale project finance companies, even without considering the technology integration risk. Until debt markets markedly improve, the prospects for raising commercial debt for Ohio River Clean Fuels are dim. It is unclear when conditions will improve.
Equity requires assurances that debt will be available
Our discussions with potential equity investors indicate that “forward funding risk” is paramount to them right now. Equity investors are reticent to invest in the early stage of projects because of the risk that commercial debt markets will not be open or won’t be reasonably priced when the time comes to obtain construction financing. A U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantee mitigates this risk and will enable Ohio River Clean Fuels to secure equity sooner and on more reasonable terms.
Three months later, on March 27, 2009, Baard Energy withdrew its loan guarantee application, and has not resubmitted it to this day. This raises three questions for Mr. Baardson:
1. We agree with your December 2008 analysis. Without a loan guarantee, you had no prospects for financing the coal refinery.  No grants, no loans, no equity. Given that, why did you doom the refinery project by pulling your loan guarantee application?
2. Since you did pull the plug on your only chance at financing, why have you continued to maintain — publicly at least — that the project is going ahead?
3. Why are you asking Wellsville businesses to lobby for a federal loan guarantee application that doesn’t exist?  According to the February 27, 2010 Morning Journal 

[On February 25, Wellsville Area Chamber of Commerce President Randy Allmon] said [Baard President Steve] Dopuch asked the chambers to have their members send letters to President Obama, urging him to support the coal-to-liquid fuel plant. Copies of the letters were distributed to members… [the letter] notes that Baard Energy is ‘fully permitted for construction in Wellsville, Ohio,’ but needs a Department of Energy loan guarantee.

 Paul Ryder, Organizing Director, Ohio Citizen Action