A panel representing the solid waste interests of 115 Maine municipalities said Wednesday it is seeking other ways to reopen a waste-to-energy plant in Hampden following failed, monthslong efforts to find a qualified buyer.

The nonprofit Municipal Review Committee, composed of selectmen and other representatives of the 115 municipalities, said alternatives could include continuing to look for another appropriate buyer or possibly playing a more-direct role itself in owning the plant.

The MRC met virtually Wednesday and discussed the Hampden facility that closed in May 2020 for financial reasons. Coastal Maine Resources was formed by the international company Fiberight to finance, run and operate the facility.

MRC owns the land on which the plant is located and, thus, is its landlord, but construction of the facility itself was financed by out-of-state bondholders, or investment funds, whose trustee is the U.S. Bank National Association.

The bondholders have been trying to sell the plant with help from the MRC. MRC’s interests and efforts to that end, however, have been stymied by the complex ownership structure and inaction on the part of the bondholders, who hold primary position in the receivership and sale process, according to MRC board members.

A Pennsylvania company, Delta Thermo Energy Inc., tried to buy the plant but lost exclusive rights to do so in December because it failed to show it could finance the sale. MRC officials said Delta also did not cover the costs to keep the plant in working condition over the winter.

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MRC’s board president, Karen Fussell, confirmed Delta is out of the picture as far as MRC is concerned.

“We have been clear about that,” she said in response to a question during Wednesday’s meeting. “We have told the bondholder trustee that. We have told Delta Thermo that. We have no interest in having any other dealings with them.”

Fussell said later in a telephone interview that MRC plans to hold an executive session with member municipalities in mid-February to bring them into the conversation and get their input on how to proceed.

“The goal is to get the plant sold, to get it away from the bondholders, because they’re doing nothing with it,” she said.

The MRC over the past few months had solicited other potential buyers, and was working with one, according to Fussell. The bondholders, however, did not respond to inquiries from the MRC to discuss the proposal, she said.

“That company, we think, has kind of moved on,” she said. “They had other projects in the wings.”

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While the Hampden facility is closed, about 25% of MRC members’ waste is taken to Waste Management in Norridgewock, and the other 75% goes to the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. in Orrington, she said.

Asked if the bondholders are still trying to work with Delta Thermo, Fussell said MRC speculates they are.

Kevin Walsh, who represents the bondholder’s trustee, did not return a call Wednesday seeking comment.

Central Maine communities that are members of the MRC include Albion, China, Freedom, Oakland, Palmyra, St. Albans, Thorndike, Troy, Unity and Vassalboro. Many communities had been sending their waste to the Hampden facility as part of a long-range deal brokered by the MRC.

Michael Carroll, MRC’s executive director, said MRC continues to oversee the plant site. Fussell, the finance director for the city of Brewer, said the plant works and has the technology for waste processing.

Board Vice President Tony Smith, who is public works director for Mount Desert Island, agreed.

“I think it’s imperative that we get the facility up and running,” he said.

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