ORONO — Patrick Daly, Revere Capital Advisors LLC senior managing director, announced a promising lead in its search to find an operator for the shuttered Hampden waste facility during a virtual Municipal Review Committee Town Hall meeting Oct. 12.

Daly did not identify the prospective operator but stated that it is a company “who the MRC knows and I believe the MRC respects,” he said. The company is among the top four materials recovery facility operators in the United States and is “very well regarded,” he said. He hopes to announce the company before the Nov. 10 deadline to sign the extended exclusivity agreement.

Revere asked to extend that agreement until Nov. 11, which MRC granted during a Sept. 26 meeting. The agreement would give a controlling share of the facility to the company, with MRC retaining a 5% ownership share, according to MRC legal counsel Jon Pottle.

MRC would still own the land under the facility and would lease it to the company as a revenue source for MRC, MRC executive director Michael Carroll said. MRC would also provide some services to the facility for a fee.

Whatever operator takes over the facility will have to run the facility’s three main operations, which include recycling regular commodities, producing pulp and producing natural gas, along with a number of other smaller operations, Carroll said in an interview with The Republican Journal.

MRC took ownership of the facility in early August for $1.5 million through a stalking horse bid when the facility’s bondholders failed to find a qualified bidder. During the roughly two years the bondholders had control of the facility, they made little progress toward its reopening, Carroll said at the Town Hall meeting.

“We, the MRC and its members, are finally in the driver’s seat,” Carroll said. “Under our ownership, we have accomplished more in the last two months toward the reopening than the bondholders had in the last two years.”

As previously reported, the facility ceased operation May 28, 2020, because of a lack of funding, according to a June 10, 2020, MRC statement. In February 2020, 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.

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.

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.

During the Town Hall meeting, MRC board members answered several questions from its members. Board Member Bob Butler talked about how communication with Revere is much better than with previous prospective financiers. He said the company is professional and asked people to see the process through.

“So, I say hang in there with us; this is going to have a good ending for everybody,” he said.

The next MRC meeting is scheduled for Oct. 26 at 10 a.m., which is to be live-streamed on Facebook.

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