Company renews push to sell SPSA
Published 10:14 pm Wednesday, April 8, 2009
The president of a company that has proposed to buy the Southeastern Public Service Authority will emphasize his request at tomorrow’s special public hearing.
“We will use private capital to retire SPSA’s debt and remove this burden on taxpayers,” said ReEnergy Holdings Executive Officer Larry D. Richardson. “We will also provide stable and affordable trash fees into the future and provide the region with world-class recycling and renewable energy programs. We simply ask that SPSA provide us with the information and access we need to finalize our proposal.”
ReEnergy began its push to buy the beleaguered trash authority late last year, but said authority officials had not provided them the information they needed to make a bid. Six of SPSA’s eight member communities, including Suffolk, have formally expressed interest in learning more about ReEnergy’s plan. Suffolk passed a resolution in February instructing SPSA officials to open their records and facilities to ReEnergy – and any other potential bidders – so that they can formulate their proposals.
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“SPSA’s plan of piecemealing out its assets to try to deal with the current financial crisis is another attempt by SPSA to postpone solving a long-term problem with a temporary fix,” Richardson said. “The biggest of these assets is the waste-to-energy plant. SPSA has not explained how it will become and stay solvent between the time it sells that facility and 2018, when the current SPSA member community contracts run out. Short-term thinking by past SPSA boards has caused the current crisis and the stopgap measures now being planned are yet more of this same approach.”
Thursday’s public hearing on the new tipping fee schedule will be held at 9:30 a.m. at the Chesapeake Conference Center, 900 Greenbrier Circle in Chesapeake.
The authority has proposed new tipping fees of $245 per ton for solid waste disposal in the regional landfill. The increase would make it the highest such fee in the nation, but is needed to help the authority’s cash flow, according to SPSA executives.
SPSA Executive Director Rowland Taylor said in January that if the tipping fee were not increased, SPSA would run out of money before the end of the fiscal year on June 30. The authority is mired in $240 million of debt, and faces a budget shortfall this year.
The authority recently gained approval from Wachovia to use a portion of a $7 million loan, originally obtained for capital expenses, for operating expenses instead.
Several of SPSA’s member localities, including Suffolk, have approved a plan that includes raising tipping fees by a smaller amount, restructuring outstanding debt by the Virginia Resources Authority, and pursuing a general obligation pledge by Suffolk, Franklin, Portsmouth and Isle of Wight County in support of the VRA restructuring.
After Thursday’s public hearing, the board could take action on the preliminary tipping fee schedule. If the fee changes are approved, they will take effect immediately.
Those who wish to speak at the public hearing should be present promptly at 9:30 a.m. Written statements also may be submitted.
More information on ReEnergy’s plan can be found at www.SellSPSANow.com.