Judge signs order giving investors control of Aspen Power

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A district judge signed Thursday an order giving control of Aspen Power to its investors.

The move is the latest in an effort to foreclose on the company, which was run by Danny Vines.

The U.S. Bank and National Association filed an order earlier this month, requesting Judge Barry Bryan to give control to investors which the bank represents as a trustee.

"U.S. Bank was here today to seek relief from the court to try and do a bunch of things including possibly selling or foreclosing on the plant," said Factory Sales & Engineering, Inc attorney Tim Ross.

The Angelina and Neches River Authority Industrial Development Corp. issued $53.3 million worth of revenue bonds to the company for the purpose of building the plant in Lufkin under a loan agreement.

According to court documents, Aspen Power has not made payments since February 2012.

"My client Factory Sales & Engineering is a company that manufactures and installs boilers; and the boiler is a very integral part of the plant," Ross said. "Their entire scope of work was an excess of 20 million dollars."

The order is written so that Bryan must agree on any potential sale the investors might make.

"We reached an agreement at the conclusion of the hearing that the judge signed the order; it's been filed. So, there's now an order in place that if the bank wants to do anything with the plant that impairs our rights, they have to go back to the court and get court permission before doing so," Ross said.

Many of the parties present at Thursday's motion hearing wanted to make sure they received an order from the court to do something with Aspen Power insuring they'd be paid in full.

Vines worked six years to power up the first renewable biomass plant in the state. Aspen Power opened in August 2011 and closed in February 2012. During an interview with KTRE after the plant closed for the first time Vines said eight other plants nationwide were facing the same problems of low demand for electricity. During that time the city of Lufkin had invested $250,000 worth of improvements into the project.

A notice signed by U.S. Bank earlier this month stated the trustee plans to begin foreclosure proceedings against Aspen Power and the project assets as soon as possible.

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