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Green Energy Company Evicted from Port of Pasco – Owner Linked to Fraud Schemes

Biomass chips ready for process
(Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

A bio-mass company has been evicted from the Port of Pasco for failure to pay rent. A check of the CEO’s background shows the port may have been misled.

Michael Spitzauer, an Austrian immigrant, is the CEO of Green Power, a company that set up shop in the Port of Pasco in 2007. He’s asking the port to continue leasing him the space for his plant.  

The plant will reportedly convert garbage to diesel fuel via a process called biomass gasification. Spitzauer owes the port $570,000, including back rent and judgements handed down in the port’s favor by a Franklin County Superior Court judge.

This isn’t the first time the port has threatened to evict Green Power. Since first allowing them to set up shop, the process has been plagued by missed deadlines, failure to pay, bounced checks, and fines. In August 2009, the Department of Ecology shut down the plant for serious air quality violations. The synthetic fuel reactor, as it is called, has never been operational. The unit in Pasco has been referred to as a demonstration model.

The biomass gasification process was reportedly invented by a German doctor named Christian Koch. He then teamed with Spitzauer to bring it to the U.S., but a check of Spitzauer’s history makes us suspicious. While some research and engineering has been done in Germany in the biomass field, it has not resulted in any significant breakthroughs or full-scale production of usable fuel.

A Seattle Times report from 1997 shows the CEO of Green Power spent time in an Austrian prison for fraud, then after his release in 1995, allegedly committed more fraudulent acts. He is accused of bilking Austrian businessmen out of hundreds of thousands of dollars for a Nigerian oil scheme, as well as loan and credit card fraud. He spent time in the King County jail while the State Department tried to extradite him to Austria in 1997.

He reportedly has until Jan. 10 to deliver the $570,000. He is also facing numerous unpaid fines to the Department of Ecology and Labor and Industries.

Apparently Mr. Spitzauer was able to convince a lot of people he was a legitimate businessman. This story only reminds us of the rapidly-growing list of green energy companies that have gone bankrupt because of faulty technology, lack of markets, or corruption.

While this situation is much smaller than the collapse of the solar energy company (and Obama pet project) Solyndra, it again illustrates how the blind rush to pursue untested and unproven green energy technologies ends up benefiting no one in the end.

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