The organization that represents the solid waste interests of more than 100 Maine municipalities and the owners of a waste-to-energy plant in Orrington have withdrawn their lawsuits against each other.

In addition, the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co., of Orrington, and the Municipal Review Committee have reached an agreement clarifying the end to their relationship in March 2018, according to a news release Thursday from Ted O’Meara, a PERC spokesman.

Those agreements remove a potential stumbling block for the planned first-in-the-nation Fiberight waste management plant in Hampden, a facility that will serve the trash disposal needs for dozens of central Maine communities. Hundreds of thousands of tons of waste and millions of dollars the communities pay for disposal are all at stake in the Fiberight plant, which officials say still is scheduled to be operational and ready to accept waste on April 1, 2018, as planned.

The Municipal Review Committee, which represents 187 Maine communities, filed a suit against the managing general partner of the PERC, which is USA Energy Group, LLC, in 2014. USA Energy then filed a countersuit against the review committee. The suit came as the Municipal Review Committee tried to convince its member communities to sign up for the Fiberight proposal after the PERC contract expired in 2018.

Now both lawsuits have been “dismissed with prejudice,” according to the news release, meaning they cannot be brought back to court. No judgment was entered against either party and neither the review committee nor USA Energy will receive payments as a result of the lawsuits.

“I think everyone benefits from this,” O’Meara said in an interview Thursday. “Both parties are happy with it. They get to go their separate ways in a very clear and amicable manner.”


The settlement also included “mutual nondisparagement obligations,” meaning neither side can engage in “finger pointing,” O’Meara said.

“It was a fairly heated battle in the last year as both entities have tried to sign up towns for post-2018,” he said.

In April 2014 the Municipal Review Committee filed suit against USA Energy in Hancock County Superior Court, alleging that the company had violated the PERC partnership agreement. The review committee said that the owners of PERC had used municipal funding, which was paid to the plant as part of the agreement, to pay off a $1.2 million bill for lobbying for legislation that communities were opposed to in 2013.

The two groups also have reached an agreement as the review committee pushes forward with plans to serve more than 100 Maine communities’ waste disposal needs after 2018.

The board of directors for the committee signed the agreement at a meeting on Wednesday.

The committee will receive $600,000 from PERC in exchange for relinquishing the member communities’ abilities to “call” in their shares of PERC at the end of the contract and become partial owners of the company. The money will be dispersed to the member communities at the end of the contract. Past and future penalties stemming from tonnage shortfalls also will be waived for the member communities, according to the settlement.


“We did this to make sure communities got a fair shake on the revenue sharing,” said Greg Lounder, the committee’s executive director.

Despite winning state permits, the Fiberight plant remains controversial, as many towns are opting for different waste disposal alternatives and PERC is appealing state approval of the facility. In August, PERC filed an appeal in Kennebec County Superior Court calling for the reversal of the state’s decision to grant permits to the Hampden plant. The process is “ongoing,” said Jessamine Pottle, spokesperson for the review committee, said Thursday.

Because of the tie-up with the permits, the board voted Wednesday to defer consideration of an important milestone for the project: whether Fiberight has been able to obtain financial closure on its loans. The committee originally planned to hear from Fiberight by Jan. 1, 2017, but the Maryland-based company now has until May 1.

It is typical for investors to wait until the permitting process is finished to close on an investment, review committee officials have said.

In the meeting Wednesday, the board did discuss how to manage waste if it needs to use the Crossroads Landfill in Norridgewock, should the Fiberight plant not be ready. Pottle said the committee will know more after the winter season and after the new May 1 deadline.

“Right now we’ll be expecting that Fiberight will be able to accept the municipal solid waste on April 1,” she said.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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