- The auction house for the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co.’s shuttered waste-to-energy plant scheduled a new sale for the Orrington, Maine, site after a previous deal fell through. The auction is scheduled for Nov. 14 at 1 p.m.
- Pennsylvania-based Delta Thermo Energy made a winning bid to acquire PERC for $1.5 million on Nov. 2, per local reports. But in a note to bidders Friday morning, Keenan Auction Co. said the highest bidder had defaulted on the auction contract.
- The PERC facility has been closed since May. Since then, the facility has struggled to find a new buyer and its auction was delayed multiple times. Delta Thermo Energy’s bid came after at least one auction date where zero buyers made a bid.
DTE did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Orrington Town Manager Chris Backman said he had a conversation with DTE leadership about the winning bid, in which DTE CEO Rob Van Naarden assured Backman they would “do everything they could to get the place cleaned up.”
“I was supportive of them. I had to give them the benefit of the doubt. History was not in his favor; he's proved it now,” Backman said.
Backman also said he visited the facility after a fire broke out in a trash heap there last week, but he did not see DTE executives present.
DTE had attempted to buy another incinerator in Hampden, Maine, two years ago. But that sale was scuttled after the Municipal Review Committee, which represented the interests of towns that contracted with the Hampden plant, raised concerns over Van Naarden’s credibility, Bangor Daily News reported in 2021. The Fiberight facility involved in that dispute instead reached a deal this summer with Innovative Resource Recovery that officials said would bring the facility back online.
The PERC WTE plant figures into plans Orrington has for an industrial park neighboring the facility, Backman said. The town expected other industrial tenants to be able to pen an offtake agreement with the WTE plant to keep energy costs low.
While the WTE facility is offline, the town of Orrington’s trash has gone to the Juniper Ridge Landfill as part of a pass-through agreement with PERC. Backman said the agreement ensures the town currently doesn’t pay for waste disposal, but if PERC were to permanently close, Orrington would have to find a new waste disposal contract with much greater costs.
Backman said he hoped a new buyer for the facility would modernize and restart PERC’s waste-to-energy plant rather than scrap it.
“As frustrating as these deferrals are or these delays are, I'm still paying zero dollars,” Backman said. But the price of a future contract has “got to be more than zero. I'm prepared for that day to come, that day has not come yet.”