MRC continues to divert municipal waste in wait for buyer



ELLSWORTH — Municipal waste disposal is critical to local towns but mundane in its details. Tipping fees, staffing, plant operations and maintenance all balance together to dispose of the thousands of household items that get tossed out every day. 

Meanwhile, the Municipal Review Committee, which takes on this burden for 115 municipalities in Maine that belong to the nonprofit advocacy organization, finds itself facing further delays in reopening its Hampden facility. 

Under receivership since owner Coastal Resources of Maine (CRM) ran out of investor funds in April of 2020, MRC thought it had found a buyer in Delta Thermo Energy LLC (DTE), but the Pennsylvania-based company has failed to come through with financing. MRC then reopened the sale to new potential purchasers in August, with DTE still in the mix but no longer with an exclusive option to purchase the facility. 

While MRC does not own the facility, it has a voice as owners of the land and infrastructure the facility sits on. 

Currently, members’ waste is being landfilled in Juniper Ridge, with some also sent to the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. (PERC) facility in Orrington, although that has been on hold as the facility upgrades its equipment. 

“PERC has done everything they could to take members’ waste whenever they could,” MRC Executive Director Michael Carroll said. “One more week of bypass should get them ahead of the curve.” 

At the organization’s latest board meeting on Oct. 27 – ahead of a mid-November town hall meeting and its December annual meeting – Carroll noted two additional proposals that have been received and reviewed by MRC. One of the proposals has also been reviewed by the bondholder.  

Now, the potential buyers are working with their own teams “to see if they can come back to the table with solutions” to issues raised by MRC, Carroll said. 

At the same time, DTE provided MRC with a lender term sheet “that discloses a dollar amount enough to purchase and make improvements,” Carroll continued. 

“The term sheet still has many hurdles to overcome until signoff from the lender,” he added, including a “significant” deposit by DTE to the bondholder that would again give DTE the sole purchase option. 

“DTE will have some real skin in the game if this happens,” Carroll said. 

Carroll also raised terminating the current lease agreement with CRM or putting it on notice of termination.  

“MRC is not the owner of the facility, and we are not the one selling the facility, but we do own the land that it sits on, and our patience is wearing thin,” he said. “If things are still dragging along with DTE or another buyer, we need to react.” 

Carroll also had his contract extended through June of 2025 in a unanimous board vote. 

“You’re doing a phenomenal job,” MRC Board President Karen Fussell said. “We wouldn’t be here with the opportunity to reopen the plant without the incredible amount of work you’ve put into it over the last couple of years.” 

 

Anne Berleant

Anne Berleant

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Anne Berleant covers news and features in Ellsworth, Mariaville, Otis, Amherst, Aurora, Great Pond and Osborn. When not reporting, find her hiking local trails, reading or watching professional tennis. Email her at [email protected]

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