The sorting equipment at Fiberight's Coastal Resources of Maine plant in Hampden in 2019. Credit: BDN file photo

The sale of an Hampden trash plant to a Pennsylvania company is in potential jeopardy as the company has yet to show evidence it has the funding to make the purchase, Municipal Review Committee officials said in a town hall meeting Thursday.

The sale of the Coastal Resources of Maine plant had been slated to occur by June 30 but has been continuously delayed due to Pennsylvania-based company Delta Thermo Energy’s financing issues, Municipal Review Committee officials said.

Those officials took a previously unpublicized hard line toward Delta Thermo, whom they said had the power to make or break the deal. Without providing details, they also said the committee is looking into contingency plans for the plant if the sale does not go through.

“We have been making it very clear to them that our patience, our members’ patience, the board’s patience, is getting very thin,” Municipal Review Committee President Karen Fussell said. “We need to get this process moving.”

Delta Thermo likely thought securing funding for the project would be easier than it has proven to be, said Michael Carroll, executive director of the Municipal Review Committee. The committee represents more than 100 communities that sent their trash to the Coastal Resources of Maine plant when it was being operated by Fiberight, and which would send it there again when the plant is sold. The plant stopped operations in May 2020 after six months as it struggled to pay its bills.

This is not the first time Delta Thermo has had issues with financing: a previous deal to build a waste-to-energy plant in Allentown, Pennsylvania was nixed by the city largely due to concern from officials that Delta Thermo had not secured funding for the project, according to a 2014 letter from City Solicitor Jerry Snyder.

Van Naarden denied the letter’s allegations in a January interview, calling them “completely false.” He connected the deal’s failure to corruption at city hall, including former Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski being sentenced to 15 years in federal prison on corruption charges.

The ball is in Delta Thermo’s court, and the Municipal Review Committee needs to see movement on the financing issue if they are to continue facilitating the sale, Carroll said.

Delta Thermo has faith it can overcome the financial hurdles, said Carroll, who said that nobody involved was ready to “throw the towel in” as long as there is evidence of progress.

The Municipal Review Committee had said that Delta Thermo CEO Rob Van Naarden would appear in the town hall meeting, but Carroll said Van Naarden was pulling out of the event in an email to members on Tuesday. Carroll and the court-appointed trustee, the U.S. Bank National Association, agreed that it was “not appropriate” for Van Naarden to speak to the public while financing is not secured, the email said.

While the Municipal Review Committee owns the land on which the plant sits, the ultimate authority to sell the plant belongs to the plant’s bondholders, several investment funds located outside of Maine, who the trustee represents.

Van Naarden has mischaracterized his company’s domestic and financial work in previous appearances. Opponents of the deal have long cited such actions by Delta Thermo, including listing technical advisers on their website without their knowledge, as examples of why the company should not be allowed to purchase a plant so important to tens of thousands of Mainers.

Another update on the sale is expected within four to six weeks, Fussell said.

Van Naarden did not respond Thursday to a request for comment.

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the location of the Coastal Resources of Maine plant. It is located in Hampden.