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Karen Fussell is the president of the Municipal Review Committee. Tony Smith is the MRC’s vice president. This column was written on behalf of the Municipal Review Committee board of directors.
The Municipal Review Committee (MRC) is a nonprofit organization representing 115 Maine communities that have joined together to ensure the affordable, long-term and environmentally sound disposal of their municipal solid waste.
Earlier this year, the MRC took steps to force the sale of the currently shuttered solid waste processing facility in Hampden. As a result, the MRC now owns a state-of-the-art $80-plus million facility and the land on which it sits.
The MRC is excited for this new opportunity — for increased recycling, for less waste to landfill, for helping the state with its climate goals.
The plant is in good operating condition. During its closure, the MRC monitored the plant’s control systems and equipment and kept it warm during cold winter months.
We know that the plant’s technology works. It operated successfully during the seven months prior to its closing, demonstrating that it was capable of accepting and processing waste with diversion rates that exceeded the 50 percent Department of Environmental Protection permit requirement. It’s important to remember that the prior owner’s failure was due to poor management, lack of financing, and delayed permit approval, not the plant itself.
Ownership of the plant offers a unique opportunity for MRC communities to take control of and be responsible for their own municipal solid waste. It enhances the MRC’s overarching goal of providing reliable, affordable, and environmentally sound solid waste management for MRC’s members.
There is more at stake here than just the plant in Hampden. The state’s other processing facilities are aging and have limited capacity. Adding the Hampden plant’s capacity and modern technology to the state’s solid waste processing infrastructure is critical to meeting the needs of this region. It could also increase statewide recycling and diversion rates and foster more collaboration in efforts to diversify Maine’s approach to municipal solid waste management.
The MRC needs $20 million to successfully restart the plant and cover operating costs until the facility achieves profitability. To avoid burdening MRC members with this level of financial support, MRC solicited proposals from potential private sector partners and has signed an exclusivity agreement with Revere Capital Advisors, LLC, an investment firm that proposes to reopen and operate the plant as it was originally designed.
The MRC is working on the details of the partnership agreement with Revere and confirming Revere’s access to sufficient capital. The MRC intends to close on the partnership transaction within the next six weeks, if all conditions are met.
In addition to capital, Revere’s offer includes expertise in facility engineering and waste and pulp operations in the form of proposed plant operator CS Solutions. MRC is aware of CS Solutions’ ties to a company with previous involvement in Maine, in the Katahdin region. However, the structure planned for the Hampden facility is wholly different. The MRC’s partnership will be with Revere Capital Advisors, LLC and not with any other entity. CS Solutions’ role would be limited to that of a vendor; it would have no role in ownership, financing, or governance of the facility. Furthermore, Revere’s proposal does not rely on any state or federal financial support.
We expect to begin processing small volumes of waste within six months of securing financing. Within 18 months, we expect to accept all member waste for material recovery facility processing and to have the entire facility, including the wet – or pulping – end, operational.
After more than 30 years of active participation in managing municipal solid waste, MRC’s knowledge of and experience in the industry are both broad and deep. As owner of the Hampden facility, the MRC is committed to seeing its new approach to recycling and processing municipal solid waste come to fruition. This is a long-term solution for this region that will minimize waste sent to landfill by maximizing the reuse, recycling, and creation of value-added products from municipal solid waste.