- The City Council of Pittsfield, MA has approved a plan to upgrade the local waste-to-energy facility and keep Covanta as the operator for at least four more years, as reported by the Berkshire Eagle.
- The council voted to use $562,000 in Pittsfield Economic Development funds to build a state-mandated recycling enclosure and upgrade the fossil fuel boiler. State energy tax credits are also included that will continue Covanta's agreement to sell steam to currency maker Crane & Co.
- Covanta's contract with the city runs until June 30, 2020. If the company chooses to close the facility before that it will have to pay back part of the funds.
In an interview last week, Covanta CEO Stephen Jones told Waste Dive he doesn't think subsidies should be common practice because power prices are low, but said they made sense for Pittsfield.
"It is nice to get credits in some cases. If you look at some of the other renewables they get a lot of subsidies and energy-from-waste doesn't really play at that level from a subsidy standpoint, so it's helpful. Particularly in this case because the plant's smaller, it's a little older, the economics are challenged."
While this deal may draw criticism from some local environmental advocates, the city currently has few other affordable disposal alternatives. Landfill space is limited in the Northeast and waste-to-energy is likely to remain a dominant factor in the region for the foreseeable future.