Attempt to call MRC meeting falls short 

BAR HARBOR — A push by Bar Harbor officials to call a special meeting of the members of the Municipal Review Committee over changes that would come with the sale of the Coastal Resources of Maine waste treatment facility has failed.

Last month, the Town Council voted to call a special meeting to run through the proposed changes to the Hampden-based facility if it was sold to Delta Thermo Energy Inc., whose past practices sparked concern among members of the Bar Harbor Town Council. The council’s vote signaled its displeasure over what members called a lack of answers about the sale of the facility.

The 115 member towns of the MRC could have special voting rights over the changes if a special meeting were to be called, but Bar Harbor was the only community to request the meeting.

Getting the meeting called was always going to be a longshot. For it to take place, MRC members representing an aggregate 60,000 tons of waste a year need to call for it. Bar Harbor represents about 5,000 tons. The deadline to call the meeting was June 2, but MRC Executive Director MichaelCarroll sat down with the council on Tuesday to answer any questions they had.

“Because members of the Bar Harbor town council have expressed questions about the sale, we will be speaking at a future town council meeting, giving them an update on the sale and reviewing the chronology of events that led to the bondholders selling the Hampden plant,” he wrote in an email.

Sale of the plant is moving forward and, at this point, DTE’s financier is reviewing all the documents and any next steps would come from them, Carroll said.

The potential changes were: DTE would have the option to buy the land where the facility is located; a replacement to the rebate structure; a two-year extension of the master waste supply agreement; and a two-year extension to the lease site.

Reports from earlier this spring found that DTE CEO Rob Van Naarden had mischaracterized his past business work and listed technical advisers who either never worked or who no longer worked for the company.

Carroll told the board that some of the media reports lacked the total context and the MRC felt that DTE was the best option to resume waste processing at the facility.

If the sale goes through this summer, Carroll estimated it could be accepting trash from Bar Harbor and other municipalities again by the start of the new year.

The council also brought up the possibility of leaving the MRC, to which MRC board member Sophie Wilson said the current agreement with the town is binding and there is no real “out.”

The trash facility closed last year when the company that was operating it ran out of funds. The MRC seems to have learned from that situation and is requiring a performance bond from DTE to ensure there is money if the company hits a snag.

Since its closure, Bar Harbor has been sending its waste to Penobscot Energy Recovery Company, where it is burned to make electricity. The town’s single stream recycling goes to Old Town and then on to Lewiston, and costs more than three times as much as it did at the Hampden facility.

Ethan Genter

Ethan Genter

Former reporter for the Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander, Ethan covered maritime news and the town of Bar Harbor.

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