Company seeks $45 million state bond for building waste plant in Hampden
A company working to build a first-of-its-kind waste management plant in Hampden has applied for a $45 million bond from the Finance Authority of Maine, a key step in the facility being built to serve the waste removal needs of many central Maine communities.
Maryland-based Fiberight would use the authority’s conduit bond as a “pass-through” to receive credit from investors while avoiding federal income taxes, said Christopher Roney, general counsel for the authority. Investors would give money to the authority, which would pass it to Fiberight, but Fiberight would pay the investor back directly, so the bond would not affect the state’s credit.
The Finance Authority of Maine is a quasi-independent state agency that provides financing and education to local businesses. The authority, known as FAME, is holding a public hearing on the Fiberight application at 10 a.m. Monday, Feb. 20, at its offices in Augusta.
Fiberight is planning to have the $69 million solid waste facility ready by 2018, when a contract ends between the Municipal Review Committee, which currently represents 187 communities’ trash interests, and an Orrington-based plant.
More than 100 communities in Maine will stay with the committee and send their trash to Fiberight in Hampden, putting thousands of tons of waste and millions of dollars in tipping fees annually into the effort.
The committee chose Fiberight as the financially viable alternative because it offered a tipping fee of $70 per ton, while the fee for Orrington-based Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. would increase to $90 per ton in 2018.
However, Fiberight and the committee have hit roadblocks along the way, as PERC appealed state approval of the facility and a statewide environmental group balked at the state’s approval of the permits.
When permits were approved for the facility last year, critics continued to raise concerns about the relatively untested technology that will be used, a lack of specific information about the project’s financing, and whether the operation would be financially sustainable.
Meanwhile, construction of the road and utilities leading to the site of the proposed facility began late, and Fiberight has said it cannot reach financial closing until the appeal of the permit approval is settled.
At a groundbreaking ceremony in October, the Municipal Review Committee marked the conclusion of the deal with Fiberight, which included building the road to the proposed site and its infrastructure. The estimated cost, $5 million, will be paid using money from the tipping fee stabilization fund, which has more than $20 million. The plan calls for the Fiberight facility to be operational and accepting waste by April 2018.