A new $69 million waste-to-energy facility in Hampden will be operational by April 1, 2018, according to the groups partnered to operate it.

A newsletter released by the Municipal Review Committee said that Sargent Corp., a construction firm based in Old Town, began clearing, grubbing and other earthwork at the site July 5, with foundation construction expected to begin by late summer or early fall.

Construction of the building is expected to begin in midfall or early winter, and on April 1 the facility will be accepting waste.

The MRC is a nonprofit organization that represents 187 municipalities in Maine that send their solid waste to the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. in Orrington. The contract between the MRC and PERC ends in 2018.

After that, MRC and its municipal members have agreed to send waste to the Hampden plant run by Fiberight. Fiberight plans to separate recyclables from organic waste, then convert the organics into biofuels.

MRC and Fiberight became partners to build the Hampden facility at the end of 2015.

MRC has said in the past this will be a more affordable alternative to what PERC will charge in tipping fees in a new contract.

Of the 86 equity charter municipalities that are members of MRC, 36 had sold their municipal interests in PERC, securing their share of sale proceeds. Communities that don’t exercise that option by Dec. 15 will be subject to PERC’s exercise of its call option, which may result in a different price.

These communities will have to negotiate with PERC on retaining shares or reaching terms of a sale of their interests with PERC.

Once built, the 144,000-square-foot plant will convert trash from more than 115 communities that belong to MRC into biogas, a fuel made from the breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen.

The newsletter says that MRC, Fiberight, the town of Hampden, Sargent Corp., and CES, the Brewer-based engineering firm involved in the planning, had developed a timeline that is “realistic and still shows the Fiberight facility opening by April 1, 2018, despite the many setbacks and hurdles we have had to overcome.”

Colin Ellis can be contacted at 861-9253 or at:

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