HAMPDEN — The Municipal Review Committee plans to buy the Fiberight/Coastal Resources of Maine building through a stalking horse bid after the facility received no other qualified bidders, according to Executive Director Michael Carroll. However, a Penobscot Superior Judge put a hold on the sale, which was supposed to close by June 30.

There have been no interested bidders that meet the qualifications to operate the facility, Carroll said in an email message to The Republican Journal. The purchase price will be between $1 million and $1.5 million and the sale was expected to be finalized by the end of June.

“Under MRC’s ownership and direction, we believe the plant will be better positioned for a successful restart, which ultimately benefits each and all of MRC’s members both economically and in sound management of municipal solid waste consistent with the state’s solid waste management hierarchy,” he said.

The facility ceased operation May 28, 2020, as a result of a lack of funding, according to a June 10, 2020, MRC statement. In February 2020, the MRC gave the facility’s operators a $1.5 million short-term loan, but the facility stopped operating when it lost $14.7 million in expected funding from bondholders.

The $70 million waste-to-energy facility recycles solid municipal waste to help preserve landfill space. Originally, the facility was supposed to open in April 2018. Several factors delayed its opening until April 2019, but then it was not fully operational until the following November.

The facility is the first of its kind, according to the MRC website. The pulp created from paper products at the facility can be converted to renewable natural gas to power the plant while offsetting its fossil fuel use.

Since the facility’s closure, MRC towns have not been able to end their contracts; instead, trash from those towns has been diverted to other waste facilities in the state, often at increased expense to the affected towns. MRC municipal members in Waldo County are Belfast, Brooks, Freedom, Knox, Montville, Searsmont, Thorndike, Troy and Unity.

A Penobscot County judge put a hold on the sale June 24 because two of the creditors, CP Manufacturing and SNC-Lavalin, objected to moving forward with the sale, claiming that they would receive no proceeds from the sale, according to information in the court order. They argue that their claims should be satisfied before that of U.S. National Bank, which is the largest creditor and holds the highest priority in relation to other creditors.

The MRC is still working with the receiver, trustee and lienholders on the issues outlined in the court order, Carroll said in a June 27 email. “We remain optimistic that a sale can occur in the next week or two in order to focus our efforts on reopening the facility,” he said.

The creditors had to file a request for an evidentiary hearing by June 28 or the motion to stay the sale will be denied, according to the court order. If the court receives a motion for the hearing, then it most likely will be held July 1.

The MRC’s next meeting is Wednesday, June 29, and can be viewed on Facebook Live.