The Waldoboro Board of Selectmen voted Tuesday, March 29 to place an article on the warrant in favor of Waldoboro joining Fiberight for waste disposal after 2018.
Following a unanimous recommendation from the Waldoboro Transfer Station Committee, the board voted for the future break with Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. in favor of the Municipal Review Committee and Fiberight.
The Municipal Review Committee and Fiberight plan to build a new facility in Hampden to handle the waste-disposal needs of member municipalities.
Fiberight’s facility plans to utilize solid waste from Maine municipalities to create biogas for sale on the open market for heating and other industry needs. Biogas is a sustainable fuel produced from organic materials and has a similar composition to natural gas.
Bob Butler, chair of the transfer station committee, voted to recommend going with the joint proposal by the Municipal Review Committee and Fiberight LLC after a thorough review of all available options.
“We looked at all the reasonable alternatives available at this time,” Butler said.
Town Manager Linda-Jean Briggs said the town hired an engineer to examine the options available to the town moving forward.
“The recommendation clearly says that Fiberight is recommended for our type of waste disposal,” Briggs said.
Some other options available to the town, including waste disposal at Ecomaine in Portland, would necessitate single-stream recycling.
Briggs said the town currently practices clean recycling and partners with Lincoln County Recycling to get rid of recyclables without transportation or disposal costs.
“That is a significant savings that we should realize we would be able to continue if we choose to go with Fiberight,” Briggs said.
Butler spoke in favor of continuing the town’s relationship with the Municipal Review Committee, an organization originally set up to represent towns’ interests in regards to Penobscot Energy Recovery Co.
The Municipal Review Committee moved away from Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. and examined 13 alternatives before deciding on Fiberight as the best path forward for the municipalities it represents.
“Our relationship isn’t with Fiberight; our relationship is with the MRC, and I feel that is the way it should be. They have done a really good job representing our interests,” Butler said.
He further lauded the efforts of the Municipal Review Committee and said it factored into the transfer station committee’s decision.
“These guys have been with us for a long time. They put a lot of effort into this. They know what they are doing. They have had engineers look at it. They have had the University of Maine look at it,” Butler said.
Waldoboro is not the only Midcoast municipality weighing its options regarding trash disposal down the line.
The boards of the Mid-Coast Solid Waste Corporation and the cooperative board handling trash in the communities of Thomaston, South Thomaston, and Owls Head voted to recommend their cooperatives enter into a contract with the nonprofit Ecomaine.
Ecomaine offered prospective customers a rate of $70.50 per ton, Fiberight offers a rate of $70, and Penobscot Energy Recovery Company has floated offers of $84.36 per ton for a 15-year agreement or $89.57 for a 10-year agreement.
Towns across the state are weighing their options regarding waste disposal post-2018 due to the upcoming expiration of 30-year contract with Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. signed in 1988.
The previous contract guaranteed Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. and, by extension through tipping fees, the 187 towns that disposed at the Orrington site, an above-market rate for its solid waste-based electricity.
With the expiration of these favorable rates, many towns disposing of solid waste with Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. may see an increase in tipping fees.
The communities of Cushing and Friendship also use the Waldoboro Transfer Station.
The Municipal Review Committee has toured towns throughout Maine and requested a decision from municipalities by May for towns on a fiscal year, including Waldoboro. The committee has asked for the matter to be placed on warrants for town meetings.