If all goes to plan, a $69 million waste-to-energy plant planned for Hampden will be up and running by April 1, 2018, according to the partnership that is building it.
Sargent Corp. began earth work at the site on July 5 and foundation construction is expected to start in late summer or early fall. Building construction is scheduled to get underway in mid-fall or early winter, the Municipal Review Committee said in its July newsletter.
“The MRC, Fiberight, the town of Hampden, Sargent Corporation and CES [the Brewer-based engineering firm involved in the planning] have developed a construction timeline for the remaining items to be completed that meets the needs of all parties,” the MRC said in its newsletter.
“We are very pleased to report that this timeline is realistic and still shows the Fiberight facility opening by April 1, 2018, despite the many setbacks and hurdles we have had to overcome,” it said.
In April, the Finance Authority of Maine agreed to provide Maryland-based Fiberight LLC, which developed the technology for the plant, access to $45 million in tax-exempt bond money.
The bonds are treated as government securities and are tax exempt under federal law, Fiberight CEO Craig Stuart-Paul said at the time.
Once constructed, the 144,000-square-foot plant will convert trash from more than 115 communities that belong to the Municipal Review Committee into biogas, a fuel made from fermented organic materials.
The process reuses organic materials in trash to make biofuels after the glass, metals, papers and plastics are removed to be sold. The group also plans to use the fibrous material left over from the distilling process to make fuel pellets that can be used for heating. Biofuels are similar to natural gas.
The 115 towns represented by the MRC currently send their waste to Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. in Orrington, but the group’s leaders started looking for disposal alternatives about six years ago because they believe PERC would not be profitable after 2018, when a lucrative above-market contract for the electric power it generates expires. The tipping fee for member communities will be $70 a ton.
The MRC and Fiberight entered a partnership to build the Hampden facility at the end of 2015. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection in July 2016 approved permits for air emissions, solid waste processing, stormwater management and compliance with the Natural Resources Protection Act. Officials held a groundbreaking on Coldbrook Road in October 2016.