Scuderia Backing Away From $1.5B Barstow Aluminum Plant Commitment

BARSTOW (August 22) —Because of escalating electricity costs, it now appears Scuderia Development is abandoning the $1.5 billion aluminum plant it had earlier contemplated building in Lenwood.
In November, Newport Beach-based  Scuderia Development filed a letter of intent with the city of Barstow to build a 2.95 million-square-foot facility for China Zhongwang Holdings Limited on 964 acres just south of the defunct Sun & Sky Country Club and Golf Course in Lenwood.
In March, the framework for undertaking the $1.5 billion aluminum production facility project that would provide as many as 2,000 high-skilled manufacturing jobs to the Barstow area was set with the signing of an exclusive negotiating agreement between Scuderia and the city.
According to city officials and Scuderia, what was to be one of the largest secondary aluminum production factories in the world would be constructed in multiple phases over several years, with the first phase of the project likely to become operational within three years..
Liaoning Province, China-based China Zhongwang Holdings Limited, founded in 1993 and now the world’s second largest manufacturer of industrial aluminum profiles, chose Scuderia to handle the project because Scuderia already owns more than 258 acres of land at the proposed facility site.
Based upon the prospect of the plant locating in Lenwodd, Barstow Community College Superintendent/President Dr. Debbie DiThomas was endeavoring to adapt her institution’s curriculum and career technical education program to train local residents to make a seamless transition in their skill set to qualify for jobs at the plant, which were expected to pay in the $40,000 to $50,000 per year range.
Barstow obtained purchase options on more than 500 acres surrounding the 258 acres already owned by Scuderia in Lenwood to facilitate the progression of the project. The city further was prepared to utilize up to $1.5 million of its own reserves toward securing entitlements for the project, pursuant to arrangements that would see the city reimbursed once the project was completed. City officials had also made arrangements to sojourn to China to tour aluminum plants and obtain further information relating to the project. That trip did not come off, however and since May there was little information forthcoming relating to the project.
The production of aluminum is an electricity-intensive process. As China Zhongwang examined the situation more closely, the relatively high cost of electricity in California made locating what was to be one of the largest secondary aluminum production factories in the world prohibitively expensive.
The electricity to be utilized at the plant would be provided by the state power grid. Any electricity conveyed over the state power grid is automatically subject to the imposition of a ten percent “wheeling” fee. Other surcharges apply to electricity delivered in that manner as well.
This week, on Monday August 18, Barstow City Manager Curt Mitchell was the bearer of bad tidings when he publicly announced at the regularly scheduled city council meeting that Scuderia has informed the city it is unlikely to pursue the project.
The reason for the change in enthusiasm toward locating in Barstow, Mitchell said, was directly tied to the high cost of electricity in California.
Mitchell said he held out hope that Scuderia may yet have energetic designs for the 258 acres it owns in Lenwood, though that project will be far less grand than that one which was contemplated by China Zhongwang. Mitchell indicated China Zhongwang quite likely will not be involved in the eventual utilization of the property.

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