The sale of the Hampden Fiberight waste recovery plant to a Pennsylvania-based company could close by June, officials report. Courtesy of Fiberight/Coastal Resources of Maine

A committee representing the solid waste interests of 115 Maine municipalities voted Wednesday to further the sale of Coastal Maine Resources LLC’s recycling and waste-to energy plant in Hampden by authorizing committee officers to adopt and execute all agreements necessary to move the sale forward.

The unanimous vote by the Municipal Review Committee followed a virtual, 2 1/2 hour executive session to discuss contractual documents and rights related to the proposed sale of the plant to Delta Thermo Inc., a Pennsylvania-based company.

“I would expect a closing to occur, likely, in June, just by virtue of some of the processes that need to unfold,” Jon Pottle, the committee’s legal counsel, said in response to a question from the Morning Sentinel.

The committee does not own Coastal Maine Resources, but it does own the land on which the plant is located, it is a customer, holds all the municipal waste contracts and is the permittee for the state Department of Environmental Protection. Coastal Maine, which closed its facility May 28, 2020, for financial reasons, was formed by Fiberight to finance, own and operate the facility. The bondholders trustee of the plant would be the one selling the facility to Delta. The facility is pledged as collateral for repayment of Coastal Maine’s loans to the bondholders trustee.

Pottle said the primary agreements the committee has with Coastal include a site lease and master waste disposal agreement. The committee, in its negotiations, has been working to maintain the best interests of member municipalities, he said. Processes that need to occur before a sale include sending notices to member municipalities, executing an asset purchase agreement and sending documents to Delta.

Committee Treasurer Sophie Wilson explained that the resolution members were to vote on Wednesday was two pages long and would be posted on the committee’s website. In making the motion to approve, Wilson summarized the intent of the vote — to authorize Committee President Karen Fussell, Vice President Tony Smith and herself, Wilson, to adopt and execute all agreements necessary to push the sale forward, understanding that member municipalities have rights with regard to certain matters.

Fussell apologized that the committee’s executive session was much longer Wednesday than she had predicted.

“That is just an indication of how thorough the board members have considered the documents that they received,” she said.

She thanked Pottle, committee Executive Director Michael Carroll, technical consultant George Aronson, and Shawn Doil, also a legal counsel. She said they spent countless hours, including days, nights, weekends and holidays working on the documents, and it appeared they were “close to the finish line.”

“It’s really been quite the labor,” Fussell said.

Pottle gave an overview of where negotiations stand, saying there are still a number of “open items” to be addressed, which is natural at this point in the process, and that he appreciated everyone’s patience.

“I know it’s been a long negotiation process, but there are a lot of details and agreements in these types of transactions,” he said.

Fussell said the committee will hold its regularly scheduled quarterly meeting at 10 a.m. April 28, at which time further information will be presented about the plant sale and attendees may ask questions.

Committee member Cathy Conlow, Bangor’s city manager, said it has been an “incredibly long nine years of serving on the board.”

“We’re all looking for safe, environmentally sound answers to solid waste issues,” she said.

The committee also voted unanimously Wednesday to authorize further extensions of the memo of understanding between the two parties, as well as any appropriate and necessary amendments.

In answer to a question from an attendee about whether Delta has the financial ability to purchase the plant, Fussell said, “The DTE has confidence that its financing source is — that the money’s there.”

The committee voted unanimously March 25 to extend a sale date with Delta. In a virtual town hall meeting Jan. 19, Robert Van Naarden, founder and CEO of Delta, said his company focuses on clean municipal solid waste processing. He was drawn to the plant because the facility is set up and has contracts in place with municipalities and Delta could start operating the facility soon after a sale, he said.

Delta has developed facilities overseas in Dresden, Germany; Shari, Hokkaido, Japan; Seoul, South Korea; Romania; Russia; South Africa; and Singapore, according to the committee’s website.

About three-quarters of municipal solid waste from committee member municipalities is now going to the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. in Orrington and the rest to Waste Management’s Crossroads facility in Norridgewock. To reduce the amount of waste being landfilled, Waste Management agreed to allow about 75% of that waste to go to PERC even though Waste Management had exclusivity to the waste and lost funds because of the move.

Central Maine communities that are members of the Municipal Review Committee include Albion, China, Freedom, Oakland, Palmyra, St. Albans, Thorndike, Troy, Unity and Vassalboro.

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