ELLSWORTH — Delta Thermo Energy will be the new owner of Coastal Resources of Maine, the waste-to-biofuel facility in Hampden that has had a dramatic, if short, history since opening in April 2019. The facility closed in May of 2019 and was subsequently placed in receivership.
“We’re very excited about this opportunity not only to bring this facility back on line but also to do what’s important to us … making sure nothing goes to a landfill or incinerator going forwards,” Delta Thermo Chief Executive Officer Rob Van Naarden said at a Jan. 19 virtual town hall meeting held by the Municipal Review Committee (MRC). The MRC is a nonprofit coordinating solid waste disposal for member communities.
As for MRC’s 115 member municipalities, tipping fees will not go up, Van Naarden said.
It will take another 60 to 70 days to close on the financing and seal the sale, and the facility should be on line and operational four to six weeks after then, he said. “We fully expect to restart the facility as designed. We understand it, we reviewed it and we feel confident we can get it restarted.”
Headquartered in Feasterville-Trevose, Pa., Delta Thermo Energy has a solid track record in waste facilities. The company operates facilities in South Korea, Germany, Japan, Romania, Russia, South Africa and Singapore, as well as piloting programs in the United States.
Delta Thermo Energy was selected from seven potential buyers. Its interest in the shuttered facility sprung from the fact that the facility was basically ready to go.
“The building exists, the permits are there … and the contracts are acquired as part of the purchase,” Van Naarden explained.
Since the plant’s closure, the municipal waste from MRC’s 115 member municipalities — 27 in Hancock and Washington counties — has been sent to a landfill or, after an arrangement with MRC, to the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co.’s facility in Orrington to be converted into electricity.
The MRC left PERC in 2018 when its 30-year contract expired, choosing to team up with Coastal Resources to open the Hampden facility, using Fiberight waste-to-biofuel technology. But Coastal Resources’ start was rocky and got rockier, and operations were suspended last spring when the plant owners failed to secure an approximate $14 million bridge loan needed from investors.
Since then, one-fourth of the municipal waste from MRC’s 115 member communities has been going to the Juniper Ridge landfill and three-quarters to the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. in Orrington.
MRC Executive Director Michael Carroll recognized members for helping with the sale: “One hundred and fifteen voices are definitely stronger than one, and I feel this has been a proven significant asset during the negotiation process.”
The MRC Board of Directors next meets on Jan. 27.