Waste and baled recyclables in Fiberight’s Hampden waste recovery plant. The plant closed temporarily in May until the Municipal Review Committee can find a buyer. Three buyers are being considered. Courtesy of Fiberight/Coastal Resources of Maine

Three purchase proposals are now under consideration for the shuttered Fiberight waste-to-energy plant in Hampden that had been serving more than 100 Maine communities.

The list of proposals for buying the Coastal Maine LLC plant has been narrowed down from an original seven to three, according to the Municipal Review Committee, which represents the solid waste disposal interests of 115 Maine municipalities.

Michael Carroll, executive director of the nonprofit review committee, reported Wednesday morning in a virtual town hall meeting that one of the three entities that submitted serious written proposals to buy the plant also would operate it, while the other two said they would bring in operators to run it. Officials did not disclose the names of the entities that submitted proposals.

Officials are looking for the right fit in a buyer, one that would ensure long-term success and sustainability for the plant, according to George Aaronson, the review committee’s technical consultant.

“We’re looking very closely at the qualifications and the experience in the proposers,” he said.

Proposals will be reviewed in October and officials hope to close on a deal in December, they said. Officials estimated the plant would launch into operation and start taking member municipalities’ waste again four to six weeks after the closing.

Coastal shut down its facility temporarily May 28 because of financial issues. Coastal defaulted on a $1.5 million loan it received from the review committee and the waste company was unable to secure a $14.7 million loan to help improve the plant and cash flow.

As part of an agreement, any solid waste needing to be diverted from Coastal would go to Crossroads-Waste Management in Norridgewock. After the closure, solid waste from the 115 municipalities was sent there, as well as to Juniper Ridge in Alton, near Old Town.

But to reduce the amount of waste being landfilled, Waste Management agreed to allow about 75% of that waste to go to Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. in Orrington, even though Waste Management has exclusivity rights to the waste.

The Municipal Review Committee has worked for several years to sponsor Coastal, which owns and operates the Fiberight facility. The Coastal plant sought to turn about 80% of the material it received into biogas, plastic fuel briquettes, paper pulp and similar products.

One of the reasons the plant was having difficulty is that it was unable to sell its product while awaiting permits from the state Department of Environmental Protection, but those permits are now in place. The company that operated and staffed the plant, NAES Corp. of Washington state, filed a lawsuit against Coastal saying it was not getting paid for its services and could no longer support the plant with its own money.

Review committee officials said Wednesday in the town hall meeting that the effort to find a qualified buyer is progressing and time is of the essence.

Board President Karen Fussell said the review committee would hold another town hall meeting within the next three to four weeks to update members and the public on that progress.

“It’s going to be a busy month that we’re coming into; a lot of activity and a lot of forward progress is what we’re looking for,” Fussell said.

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