ROCKLAND, Maine — The passage Monday night of a moratorium on energy plants does not mean the company interested in building one in Rockland has abandoned its plans, according to a company executive.
Mitchell Jacobs, the treasurer of Energy Management, Inc. of Boston, said Tuesday that despite the moratorium, the company would continue to consider building a natural-gas fired plant in Rockland that would produce electricity and steam.
Jacobs said, however, the company is looking at other locations outside Rockland.
Energy Management, Inc. owns Rockland Energy Center, which is the company that came forward in April to announce it wanted to locate a 68-megawatt combined cycle cogeneration plant in Rockland. The company submitted the sole bid to purchase city-owned land, where City Hall and the public services garage are located on Pleasant Street.
The city had put the property up for sale two weeks before, after Energy Management approached city officials with interest in acquiring the land. The city did not disclose the name of the company until the bid was open, saying it didn’t want to put the company at a disadvantage.
That move sparked criticism from members of the public, several of whom argued the process was moving too quick to give anyone else time to bid.
The city council approved granting the company an option in May, and on Aug. 1 the city and company signed the agreement. Any sale remained contingent on subsequent votes of the council and a public referendum.
Two weeks ago, however, the company informed the city it had found some private land in Rockland where it had decided it would locate a scaled-back 35-megawatt plant and would no longer need the city property. The private sale also would enable the firm to avoid a public referendum. The location of that private land has not been disclosed.
In the wake of that announcement, newly elected Councilor William Jillson proposed the moratorium, saying it would give the city time to develop zoning ordinances to protect citizens.
Rockland Energy partner Evan Coleman said last week that if the moratorium passed, the company would stop spending money on developing the Rockland project and would look at other sites. He stopped short, however, of saying the company would abandon a Rockland site.
Jacobs said Tuesday that the moratorium would not stop the company from looking at Rockland. He said if the company decides to move ahead with a plant in the city, plans would be submitted to the council, not just the planning board.
He said if the council does not want the plant in Rockland, it won’t be built.
There is no timetable for submitting a plan.