PORTLAND, Maine — Two state agencies want more information from scrap metal dealer AIM Development about its plans for the Bucksport mill and power generation systems it purchased from Verso Paper.
The Maine Public Utilities Commission asked the company on Wednesday to specify plans for the biomass generators adjacent to the mill and how its operation will stay in line with requirements for the renewable energy credit contract it has in Maine through 2016.
The PUC requested that information by March 13. The request comes at a time when little is known about AIM’s overall plans for the mill site in Bucksport.
Dave Milan, the town’s economic development director, said Thursday he’s heard little about AIM’s plans since the sale closed last month.
“It’s been, surprisingly, very quiet,” Milan said, noting that he expects the company in March will seek changes to local demolition rules town officials passed in January. Those rules were based on an ordinance adopted by the town of Sartell, Minnesota, where AIM bought another Verso mill to salvage.
The company did not respond to requests for comment about its plans Thursday, but AIM officials have previously stated they would consider reselling the mill to a papermaker for the right price. They’ve also said they are evaluating the site as a permanent recycling facility, using the deepwater port access to export salvaged metals.
Milan said the company has expressed interest in removing a requirement that it post a bond that could fund demolition work or cleanup in the event that AIM’s demolition does not meet the requirements of the local ordinance. Milan said the ordinance requires such a bond, and the company is seeking to make it possible for the council to waive the requirement.
He said the company is expected to air those concerns and others at a March 12 Bucksport Town Council meeting.
Like the state regulators seeking more information about the company’s plans, Milan said he’s had preliminary discussions with AIM officials about requirements for local permits and the town’s expectations.
Karl Wilkins, spokesman for the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, said staff from his agency met last week with officials from AIM to request information about the company’s plans for an on-site landfill.
“We’re really kind of waiting on them to provide us some information before they start doing anything,” said Wilkins. “The bottom line is that they haven’t really given us anything to go on.”
The agency oversees licensing for companies that own and manage their own landfills, mostly paper mills.
Wilkins said he did not have an account of all of the permits or licenses AIM has inherited with the purchase of the Bucksport mill, but staff representing almost every DEP program met with company officials to discuss what information the agency needs. Wilkins said he was not aware of plans for a follow-up meeting with the company.
The mill and power-production assets have a different array of regulatory requirements and are operated by separate corporate entities. On Wednesday, an attorney representing AIM filed notice that the company managing power generation changed its name from Verso Bucksport LLC to Bucksport Mill LLC.
State regulators want more information from that company, owned by AIM, because it sells power into Maine’s subsidized market for renewable energy (biomass, in this case) through a contract with Central Maine Power.
Patrick Woodcock, director of the Governor’s Energy Office, said his office estimated the power contract will be worth about $4.8 million in 2015 and $4 million in 2016.
The PUC’s request asks the company for an explanation of how it will maintain auditing and reporting systems and how the facility will operate with no material change from the time it was certified for renewable energy credits in Maine and Rhode Island.
The company has hired an outside contractor to run the power assets through the first part of 2015.