Refuse district dumps PERC

Tue, 03/15/2016 - 10:00am

The Boothbay Region Refuse Disposal District (BRRDD) is one of a number of communities ending its 25-year relationship with PERC (Penobscot Energy Recovery Company). In 2018, the refuse district will send its municipal solid waste to a new, modern waste-to-energy plant. 

The trustees entered into a 15-year agreement March 10 with Fiberight, LLC., a Maryland-based clean energy technology business. Fiberight is building a new $85 million plant in Hampden. Fiberight is using state of the art technology in creating its solid waste management system.

The BRRDD is one of 187 members of the Municipal Review Committee (MRC), a non-profit conglomeration of Maine municipalities charged with finding solid waste disposal options for its membership. 

The MRC is contracted with PERC to accept members’ solid waste through 2018. For years, PERC subsidized MRC members’ costs due to a favorable 30-year contract with Emera Maine, formerly Bangor Hydro, which expires in 2018.

The MRC owns a minority stake in PERC. It owns 25.52 percent. USA Energy, LLC. of Minneapolis, owns 74.48 percent. MRC members’ subsidized tipping fees are $54 per ton. In 2018,  PERC estimates $90 per ton tipping fees.

This resulted in the MRC searching for cheaper alternatives. The search led to the discovery of Fiberight which transforms solid waste into biofuels using state of the art technology.

Fiberight is charging $70 per ton. As it did with PERC, the MRC is partnering with Fiberight. The MRC owns the Hampden property where the Fiberight plant is located.  Executive Director Greg Lounder is recruiting MRC members for the new plant. He told the BRRDD trustees at the March 10 meeting that nearly all MRC members would likely sign with Fiberight.

“Most municipalities first have to put it to a vote at a town meeting. Once that happens, I expect most of them to join with us,” Lounder said.

BRRDD is the 14th MRC member signing with Fiberight. So far, Bangor, Brewer, Bar Harbor, Trenton, Aroostook County Commissioners, St. Albans, Swans Island, Dexter, Corinna, Palmyra, Garland, and Cranberry Island agreed to join.

On March 10, the trustees entered into an agreement with Fiberight. The contract is for an estimated $70 per ton tipping fee for 15 years, according to Lounder. Boothbay trustee Chuck Cunningham voted against the agreement.

“I have no problem with Fiberight. I just don’t like not having an out clause. What do we do if there is a problem,” Cunningham said.

Operations Manager Steve Lewis didn’t forsee any problems that couldn’t be resolved.

“We’ll have power in numbers. If we’re having a problem then others will too. With the MRC serving as the landlord, I’m sure those concerns will be heard,” he said.

In other action, the refuse district is shopping for a used one-ton pickup. According to Lewis, the current truck is “unusable.” The truck is heavily rusted and the brake line has disintegrated.

“It will not take another sticker without dumping a lot of money into it,” he said.

The one-ton truck is used for plowing and sanding the yard. It’s also used for errands and transporting staff to meetings and trainings. The truck also hauls logs too large for grinding at the transfer station.

The trustees directed Lewis to seek a replacement truck. The trustees will purchase a replacement if Lewis finds a vehicle at a suitable price. The trustees are also seeking bids on the current truck. The district is seeking a $3,000 minimum bid.

The trustees will meet next at 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 14 in the district’s business office.