- Mayor Linda Tyer of Pittsfield, MA has submitted a proposal to the city council for $562,000 in funding to keep a Covanta waste-to-energy (WTE) facility open for four more years.
- The money would come from the Pittsfield Economic Development Funds and be used for facility upgrades. Covanta has previously announced its plans to close the facility next year because of economic conditions.
- Tyer says the city could lose up to $900,000 per year if this happens due to lost revenue and the increased expense of exporting waste.
The facility has been open since 1981 and operated by Covanta since 2007. The company signed a contract last year that would have continued operations through June 2020, but has since changed course. This closure would also affect Crane & Co.—the only manufacturer of paper for U.S. currency— which receives electricity and steam from Covanta.
Crane has renegotiated a potential four-year deal with the company and new energy credits advocated by the city's state senator would also help offset some of the current costs. Covanta has said that it is still evaluating these options and plans to make a decision "in the near future." If all of these proposed deals line up and the facility remains open it will likely draw opposition from local environmental groups such as the Sierra Club which have advocated for more recycling instead.
Yet some of the waste generated can't be processed through traditional recycling systems, which is why the city still sees WTE as a viable option. According to a recent report from the Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF), Massachusetts managed the highest amount of waste through WTE per capita of any state in 2013. The same report found that the Northeast has the highest amount of WTE tonnage of any region due to limited landfill space.