A Pennsylvania-based company’s purchase of a shuttered Hampden waste plant has been delayed, but it’s taken a number of steps lately that could lead to the deal closing in May or June.
Delta Thermo Energy has recently been in contact with more than 20 former Coastal Resources of Maine employees and is speaking with a potential candidate for the plant manager position, Jon Pottle, an attorney for the Municipal Review Committee, said during a meeting Thursday.
“We are getting close to a pivot point, a turning point,” Pottle said. “I would just say, ‘hang in there.’”
The Municipal Review Committee represents the 115 towns and cities that send their waste to the Hampden plant.
While the committee owns the land on which the Coastal Resources plant sits, final approval for its sale belongs to a group of anonymous bondholders who own stakes in the plant.
The Municipal Review Committee’s board said last week that “fundamental differences” with Delta Thermo meant the company’s purchase of the plant wouldn’t close by the end of March, as originally expected.
On Thursday, board members did not clarify those differences during a public meeting in which they fielded a number of questions from the public.
The Coastal Resources of Maine plant has been closed since it ran out of money to pay its bills last May. The Penobscot Energy Recovery Company in Orrington began taking in about three-fourths of the waste from Municipal Review Committee communities shortly thereafter.
That agreement expires on March 31, but the Municipal Review Committee has negotiated a new month-to-month contract with PERC, though disposal costs will increase.
Delta Thermo specializes in a waste-to-energy process that mixes wastewater sludge with household trash and then burns the mixture to produce electricity. Though waste-to-energy plants employ similar methods in Asia and Europe — where Delta Thermo says it has operated — similar processes are virtually unknown in the U.S.
Delta Thermo’s CEO, Rob Van Naarden, has said that the company plans to reopen the Hampden plant with its existing technology before potentially incorporating its own technology, which would require new state permits.
But Karen Fussell, the Municipal Review Committee’s board president, said Thursday that Delta Thermo didn’t plan to process sewage sludge in the plant.
Questions also came up about Delta Thermo’s past foreign operations.
It has been involved in several operations overseas, though George Aronson, a technical adviser to the Municipal Review Committee, said most of those involved close collaboration with “governmental authorities,” in what was a very different business process than in the U.S.
The committee’s board hopes to hold a town hall-style event with Van Naarden sometime in April, Fussell said.