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Lawsuit settlement clears path for sale of shuttered Great Northern Paper mill property

PORTLAND, Maine (From The Daily News) -- The company seeking to build a $240 million biorefinery in East Millinocket has dismissed its lawsuit against the current owner of the shuttered mill, who it accused of backing out of a sale agreement.

EMEP LLC had sued North American Recovery Management LLC, arguing it had negotiated a right to buy the property for $1.75 million. The settlement resolves that claim and NARM's counterclaim that the lawsuit prevented it from marketing the property to other buyers.

The parties filed notice of the settlement with the court Thursday, but it's not clear if or when the land would be transferred to EMEP. The Penobscot County Registry of Deeds on Tuesday did not show any transactions transferring the land from ACM NARM Maine LLC to any other parties.

Attorneys for both companies were not immediately available for comment Tuesday morning.

EMEP said in court filings that securing the land was the next key step 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.

It also plans to build out what it calls "bioenergy parks" at the biomass plants it owns and potentially others in the state.

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