The sorting equipment at Fiberight's new plant in Hampden -- a facility that it calls Coastal Resources of Maine -- removes items that it can sell on the recycling market before converting the remaining waste into biofuel and other materials in 2019. Credit: Courtesy of Fiberght

The reopening of a shuttered Hampden waste plant will occur later than expected after some “fundamental differences” have come up during sale negotiations, according to the president of the group that represents the 115 towns and cities that use the waste plant.

Pennsylvania-based Delta Thermo Energy has been in negotiations to purchase the $90 million Coastal Resources of Maine plant in Hampden for several months. While the Municipal Review Committee, which represents the towns and cities, and Delta Thermo CEO Rob Van Naarden had said the goal was to close the deal by the end of March, current differences mean that is no longer possible, Karen Fussell, the committee’s board president and the finance director for Brewer, said during a meeting Wednesday.

The Municipal Review Committee spent most of its Wednesday meeting discussing the sale in an executive session. Its board members did not reveal what the central conflict was in the short time they met publicly.

Fussell said the committee was gathering information on what the implications of the delay would be for its members. A message will likely go out to the 115 towns and cities in the Municipal Review Committee this week, she said.

Michael Carroll, the committee’s executive director, said he was unable to discuss details about the negotiations because they were ongoing. Van Naarden declined to comment.

The municipal committee owns the land on which the plant sits and its Maine Department of Environmental Protection permits. However, the plant’s bondholders have final say on the sale of the plant itself.

The Coastal Resources of Maine plant has been closed since last May after it ran out of funds to pay its bills and fund a series of performance upgrades. Delta Thermo was one of seven companies that expressed interest in taking over the shuttered operation, and it signed an agreement to negotiate its purchase of the plant late last year.

With the Hampden plant shut down, most towns and cities have been sending their waste to the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. incinerator in Orrington in the interim. That facility is expected to shut down for maintenance for much of April.

Delta Thermo Energy specializes in a waste-to-energy process in which it mixes wastewater sludge with household trash, then burns the mixture to produce electricity.

The Hampden plant is currently set up to process municipal solid waste and recyclables only, not wastewater sludge. Delta Thermo would reopen the plant with that existing technology before seeking to deploy its own technology there in the future, which would require new permits, Van Naarden has said.