October 23, 2019
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PERC appeals state permits issued to Fiberight’s Hampden project

Bridget Brown | BDN
Bridget Brown | BDN
Refuse-derived fuel made from municipal solid waste is moved toward the power generation system where it will be burned in a boiler to make electric power at Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. in Orrington.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Penobscot Energy Recovery Co.’s battle with Fiberight over central and northern Maine’s post-2018 trash disposal future is headed to court.

Orrington-based PERC, along with its majority owner, USA Energy of Minnesota, and Exeter Agri-Energy, filed an appeal in Kennebec County Superior Court on Friday saying that the Maine Department of Environmental Protection erred in giving three permits to Fiberight’s proposed $69 million waste processing plant in Hampden.

A spokesman for the Fiberight effort dismissed the appeal, saying it was unlikely to have any impact.

The DEP on July 14 issued final Solid Waste, Air Emissions and Stormwater Management and Natural Resources Protection Act permits for the waste-to-energy plant proposed for the “triangle” area between Ammo Industrial Park, Interstate 95 and Coldbrook Road.

The DEP issued the licenses “despite serious deficiencies in the record and in contravention of existing statutory and regulatory requirements,” according to PERC’s 10-page Petition for Review of Final Agency Action.

The deficiencies, according to the petition, include failures to demonstrate the technical and financial abilities to build the plant. The company’s proposal also isn’t consistent with Maine’s solid waste hierarchy, contains insufficient documentary evidence, and should have had a review process that included public hearings, according to the petition.

The DEP relied “too heavily on inconsistent and incomplete information from the applicants. Maine people who care about the environment should be deeply concerned, as should those communities that have committed to send their trash to Fiberight after 2018,” said Robert Knudsen, vice president of USA Energy Group, in a statement released Friday.

Greg Lounder, executive director of the Municipal Review Committee, which represents communities served by PERC, said in an email that MRC “expected this appeal in effort to derail our project.”

“We are confident that it will not impede our plans to ensure affordable, environmentally sound disposal of [municipal solid waste] for our communities after 2018,” Lounder added.

USA Energy is the majority owner and managing general partner of PERC’s waste-to-energy facility serving communities in eastern, northern, central and midcoast Maine. The facility receives, processes and incinerates municipal waste, turning it into renewable electricity and dramatically reducing the volume of waste that needs to go to a landfill, company officials have said.

Exeter Agri-Energy creates energy and other products from organic waste and stands to be affected if the Hampden plant is built.

Fiberight CEO Craig Stuart-Paul praised the issuance of the permits last month.

“This puts us one step further to realizing the type of waste diversion and recycling experienced in hundreds of advanced waste processing plants in Europe, a solution that the U.S. has been slow to adopt,” Stuart-Paul said. “Maine has long held a special respect for its environment, and the State is leading the way in environmentally beneficial solid waste management with its approval of our permits.”

Fiberight anticipates that it will complete the engineering and financing for the project later this summer, with construction and commissioning running through 2017.

DEP has 40 days to respond to the petition, with legal briefs to follow, PERC officials said.

BDN writer Nok-Noi Ricker contributed to this report.

 



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