ORONO, Maine — Some communities have been given more time to sign trash contracts and be eligible to share in future profits of the Municipal Review Committee’s Fiberight plant in Hampden.
The MRC board held a special meeting in Orono Monday and decided to extend the already-past June 30 deadline to certain municipalities to sign on as founding members of the MRC-Fiberight waste processing plant. The towns of Blue Hill, Bucksport and Surry will now have until July 30 to decide and the Mid-Coast Solid Waste Corp. — a regional waste cooperative serving Lincolnville, Camden, Hope and Rockport — will have until Aug. 30.
Communities that sign a founding member 15-year contract to send trash to the Fiberight facility will be entitled to share in the facility’s profits in the form of rebates.
“In light of unique circumstances including recent deadlocked votes of the respective decision-making bodies in Blue Hill, Surry and Bucksport, the MRC Board did approve an additional short window of time until July 30 to provide additional time to approve joining with MRC/Fiberight along with the other 104 communities in the region that have made that commitment,” MRC Executive Director Greg Lounder said in a Monday email.
The Municipal Review Committee is working with Maryland-based Fiberight LLC on a proposed $69 million facility in Hampden to turn trash into biofuel and recycle other materials.
Lincolnville, one of the members of the Mid-Coast regional waste cooperative, already has voted to go with Portland-based ecomaine, leaving Camden, Hope and Rockport with a big decision that could not be made by the MRC’s deadline, MRC board member Jim Guerra said Monday.
At town meetings in June in Camden, Rockport and Hope, residents rejected the recommendation of their town officials to go with ecomaine and asked for more information to make a decision.
“If Mid-Coast, by virtue of public vote, reapplies to become a joining member by Aug. 30, the MRC will waive any penalties,” Guerra said in an email Monday. “This is because a complex process is currently underway.”
It is not clear whether Lincolnville would reconsider its position if the other three members of the cooperative vote to go with Fiberight.
Members of Mid-Coast’s board have not been able to come to a consensus, so they are putting the decision in the hands of the residents, Guerra said.
“The public will decide,” Guerra said. “We’re having a meeting on the 27th, and we’ll go back out to the towns [for a vote] in August.”
The MRC initially set a June 30 deadline for communities to get on board in order to ensure financing and make sure there would be enough trash to operate the Hampden plant.
The MRC currently has 187 members, including individual communities and solid-waste cooperatives. As of Monday, the organization had secured contracts for 100,218 tons of waste annually for the new facility beginning in early 2018.
While that amount is only about two-thirds of MRC’s original goal of securing at least 150,000 tons of trash on an annual basis, company officials have said it is enough to move forward.
Penobscot Energy Recovery Co., which is where the MRC’s trash currently goes, is also working to sign contracts for trash disposal for after its lucrative above-market contract with Emera Maine ends in early 2018. PERC, which currently burns around 300,000 tons of trash to make electricity, had contracts for 22,055 tons annually as of Monday.
The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has approved the MRC-Fiberight waste-to-energy plant’s draft permits for air emissions, solid waste processing, stormwater management and compliance with the Natural Resources Protection Act.