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Lincoln warehouse sues AltEn for failing to pay $225,000 in rent, utilities

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AltEn

An aerial view of AltEn plant is seen in this photo taken in August 2021 in Mead.

The owner of a Lincoln warehouse is suing AltEn after the defunct ethanol plant failed to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in rent and utilities.

In a lawsuit filed in Lancaster County District Court on Tuesday, 3801 Harney LLC -- which is based in Davey -- said AltEn agreed to rent space at its warehouse at 3700 N.W. 12th St. in October 2019.

The warehouse was one of at least two near the Lincoln Airport leased by AltEn after it went into operation in 2015.

Unlike Nebraska's two dozen other ethanol plants, which manufacture corn into biofuel, AltEn used unplanted seed coated in pesticides to produce biofuel at its plant south of Mead.

AltEn eventually became the final destination for 98% of all the unplanted treated seed in North America, the company said in a marketing memo.

But the Kansas-based company's unusual method for producing ethanol also created solid and liquid byproducts contaminated by high concentrations of insecticides and fungicides, which spread into the surrounding landscape.

It's unclear what AltEn stored in the 168,000-square-foot warehouse at 3700 N.W. 12th St.; the lawsuit states AltEn agreed to pay $10,893.75 monthly to lease the space, as well as $1,556.25 for insurance, taxes and utilities.

The warehouse's owner served AltEn with a termination notice Jan. 31 and said the ethanol company failed to make a payment afterward.

According to the lawsuit, AltEn also failed to remove its property from the Air Park warehouse. An attorney representing the warehouse did not return the Journal Star's call seeking comment.

The lawsuit seeks $225,257.64 in damages, as well as interest, attorney fees and other costs.

AltEn also rented space at a warehouse at 1200 Upland Avenue -- essentially across the street from the warehouse suing AltEn -- according to the marketing email it sent to seed companies advertising its services.

The lawsuit adds to the former biofuel company's legal woes.

The state of Nebraska sued AltEn in Saunders County District Court in March 2021 for numerous alleged violations of state environmental regulations. That case remains ongoing.

Earlier this year, six companies that formerly supplied AltEn with discard seed -- Bayer, Syngenta, Corteva, AgReliant, Beck's Superior Hybrids and WinField Solutions -- also sued the plant in federal court, alleging AltEn violated a contract requiring it to handle and manage discard seed in line with state statutes.

Each of those lawsuits remain open.

AltEn is also subject to a foreclosure effort stemming from delinquent property tax payments.

It previously paid back taxes and interest on other parcels where it was delinquent on its taxes.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7120 or cdunker@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @ChrisDunkerLJS

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