UPDATE: The Hennepin County Board unanimously voted on Oct. 4 to approve an agreement with Great River Energy over Covanta for operation of the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center in Minneapolis.
"We have the chance to enter into an agreement that is better financially, that has better controls and potentially promises a better relationship than we’ve had with Covanta," County Board Chairwoman Jan Callison said, as reported by the Star Tribune.
On the same day, U.S. District Judge David Doty also denied Covanta's request for a temporary restraining order against the county. Pending any changes, this means that Covanta will cease operations at the facility in 2018.
- Covanta has filed a lawsuit accusing Hennepin County, MN of sabotaging negotiations for a new contract at a Minneapolis waste-to-energy facility, as reported by the Star Tribune.
- The county recently accepted a proposed agreement from Great River Energy to run the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center (HERC), which Covanta has operated for 27 years. Covanta can still match this offer, but the company argues that the county is asking for unfavorable terms.
- The contract in question is for $25.5 million and would run from March 2018 until June 2019.
Having managed the HERC since it opened in 1989, Covanta has expressed interest in extending the arrangement for years. Yet multiple rounds of negotiations between the county and Covanta appear to have led to dissatisfaction on both sides. According to Covanta's court filing, the county is asking for new terms which limit revenues and places more liabilities and responsibilities on the company.
Prior to approval of the new contract last month, Covanta criticized Great River's ability to run the facility, but left the door open to continuing its "successful partnership" with Hennepin County. Further details on the turning point which led to the lawsuit are unclear. A spokesperson for Covanta told the Star Tribune that the lawsuit spoke for itself and the county said the matter is under review.
Contention surrounding contract negotiations is common across the entire industry, many times leading to disrupted services and expensive fines. The lawsuit in this case is asking for damages in excess of $75,000. Covanta has until Sep. 22 to match the terms of this deal and continue operating the HERC.