ORONO — The Municipal Review Committee hopes to sell the shuttered Hampden waste facility to Revere Capital Advisors LLC on or before Jan. 25, 2023, Municipal Review Committee Board President Karen Fussell said during a Dec. 19 special meeting.

The MRC has extended an exclusivity agreement to sell the facility with Revere three times since it first entered into an exclusivity agreement with the prospective buyer this summer.

Revere is working with Haley Ward Inc. to transfer the license and conditions of operation, Senior Managing Director Patrick Daly said at the committee’s Dec. 14 annual meeting. The company has transferred about $400,000 to the committee toward the facility’s purchase, Revere Chief Operating Officer Nigel Ekern said at the annual meeting.

The company is working with the Department of Environmental Protection to change the conditions in the beneficial use permit, Ekern said. Renegotiating that permit is the “linchpin” to restart the plant.

“We’re confident that we’re going to get clarity around the DEP process,” he said.

When the plant was operational, it could not sell the pulp produced because it did not meet the conditions of that permit, he said.

The company is also in the process of getting an engineering assessment completed, focusing on the pulping process, he said. It will help them decide how to restart the plant, including how to restart the biogas facility to produce renewable natural gas.

Ekern thinks there has been a lot of transparency so far around the process of the sale and reopening plans. Despite the sale taking longer than expected, officials of MRC and Revere have a good handle on the situation and are making progress, he said.

“The process is taking us longer than we’d hoped — I think everyone can agree on that — but probably not longer than we anticipated,” Ekern said. “… We have our head down, we continue to work.”

If the sale goes through, Revere will get 95% ownership of the waste facility, with the committee retaining 5% ownership. There are also other stipulations in the agreement that will help the committee recover some revenue from the facility.

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, Municipal Review Committee’s Carroll said.

The committee 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.

The facility ceased operations 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.

Revere hopes to name the engineering firm it intends to work with to run the facility sometime next month, Ekern said. Daly thinks once the facility is reopened and producing usable products it will ring nationally, possibly being reproduced elsewhere.

“This isn’t some pie-in-the-sky technology…,” he said. “We’re quite confident this facility will get reopened and I think people will be delighted nationally when they see the level of incoming trash stream that’s being diverted into useful products.”

The committee will meet Jan. 25, 2023, for its quarterly board meeting but Fussell said she intends to have at least one special meeting before then to discuss the potential sale to Revere.

Related Headlines