- Maine's Penobscot Energy Recovery Company (PERC) has launched a campaign to tout its record and discredit a new biogas company called Fiberight that is set to take away some business.
- PERC's contract with more than 180 cities and towns is expiring in 2018. So far the Municipal Review Committee (MRC), which represents many of these towns, has secured agreements for 95,000 tons of waste to go to Fiberight. The new facility will need at least 110,000 tons to be cost-effective.
- Other municipalities have also joined PERC in questioning whether Fiberight's technology, which is relatively unknown in the U.S., is viable.
PERC has dominated the local market for decades, but now that its purchase agreement with power provider Emera is ending many municipalities are concerned rates will go up.
This debate has been going on throughout the year as the MRC works to sign towns on to a new plan and Fiberight makes a case for credibility. Other companies have been mentioned, but PERC and Fiberight remain the top two contenders for the region's business.
This latest radio ad campaign has taken the debate to a more public level.
"So when it's time for your town to decide where to send its waste after 2018, don't take chances with empty promises and unproven technology — stick with what works, stay with PERC," the ad says.
Fiberight has proposed building a mixed waste facility in the town of Hampden that will divert recyclables and process organic material into industrial sugars and bio-fuels. CEO Craig Stuart-Paul told MPBN that his company's technology is based on 330 plants in Europe and took issue with PERC's tactics.
“Absolutely we take exception to it, it's grossly incorrect," said Stuart-Paul. "The reason that all of this negative campaigning is going on is that they don't want us to come in, we're competition."
June 30 is the final date for towns to sign on to the Fiberight plan, though the MRC has said towns with meetings after that date could still be eligible. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection recently issued draft licenses for the Fiberight facility and the Hampden planning board will soon be voting on the company's application, which the town council has endorsed.