ORONO — After three hours spent in executive session, the board of directors of the Municipal Review Committee on Friday chose to postpone two items that required votes on its special board meeting agenda.

The MRC is a nonprofit organization that represents 187 municipalities in Maine that send their solid waste to the Penobscot Energy Recovery Corporation. By 2018, when the contract between the MRC and PERC ends, it has agreed to send waste to a yet-to-be-built plant in Hampden run by Fiberight that plans to separate recyclables from organic waste, then convert the organics into biofuels.

More than 100 Maine towns have signed on to stay with the MRC through this transition, which the MRC says will be a more affordable alternative to what PERC will charge in tipping fees in the new contract. However, some opponents of the Fiberight plan say it’s not the best for the environment and that the plant may not be technically feasible.

The board met Friday morning to discuss a proposed settlement with USA Energy Group, which the MRC alleges misused partnership money for lobbying purposes of which the MRC did not approve. A closed judicial settlement conference was held on Aug. 24.

On the agenda was an item to vote on approving the final settlement terms, but the board chose to postponed that item until a meeting next Friday.

“The board has some questions and concerns that we hope will be addressed in the next week,” said board treasurer Sophie Wilson, who is also town manager of Orono.

After the meeting ended, board member Ken Fletcher, who is also a Winslow town councilor, said the agreements are very specific and the board wants their legal counsel to review the contracts and the settlement before they make a decision. He said this settlement is for the previous litigation issues but has been “expanded” and is “more comprehensive,” though he wouldn’t give further details at the time.

Board members also discussed the rights and duties of the MRC and Fiberight as written in the development agreement during executive session.

After the meeting, Fletcher said the board wants to verify the portion and timing of MRC’s investment in the Fiberight project.

“We’re at a very critical stage, so we’re trying to make sure everything we do is consistent with what our commitments are,” he said.

On the agenda was a vote to appropriate funds for the road and infrastructure portion of the Fiberight project, which is the investment the MRC had agreed to make in exchange for Fiberight building the plant. The vote was tabled to be taken at a later time.

Wilson reported about $89,000 of bills payable to the board, most of which were routine, she said. One large bill came from Hampden for $14,000 to pay out the board’s escrow balance from the town’s Planning Board for local permitting costs.

“Could we review the terms of agreement and make sure we are applying costs appropriately?” said board member Cathy Conlow, who is also the city manager of Bangor. Wilson agreed and requested that MRC Executive Director Greg Lounder discuss cost-sharing opportunities with Fiberight.

Craig Stuart-Paul, founder and CEO of Fiberight, said he hadn’t been approached about cost-sharing the permits beforehand but that he would be willing to discuss that with the board.

The finance committee chose not to meet after the special board meeting.

The board will meet at the Orono Town Office at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 30.

Madeline St. Amour – 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour