SPSA board supports incinerator bid

Published 4:26 pm Thursday, September 10, 2009

CHESAPEAKE—The Southeastern Public Service Authority has tentatively agreed to sell its waste-to-energy incinerator in Portsmouth for $150 million.

SPSA’s Board of Directors unanimously voted to tentatively accept the offer from Wheelabrator Technologies Inc. of Hampton, N.H., to purchase the incinerator.

“Of the offers you received, the Wheelabrator offer is better financially for SPSA and for its member communities,” said Edward Donohue, president and chief executive officer of Municipal & Financial Services Group. The firm, based in Annapolis, Md., was one of several asked by SPSA to evaluate the two proposals.

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A public hearing on the matter has been scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 23.

By moving forward with Wheelabrator, the board essentially rejected a bid by another company, Covanta Energy Corp. of Fairfield, N.J., for the incinerator.

Meanwhile, the board also voted to hold a special meeting to discuss a proposal by ReEnergy Holdings LLC at 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 17. The company, which is based in Latham, N.Y., wants to purchase all of SPSA’s assets, including the incinerator.

Among the terms of the Wheelabrator proposal, SPSA would pay a service fee of $36 per ton and guarantee it would annually send 500,000 tons of municipal waste to the incinerator.

In turn, Wheelabrator would be required to send all non-processible and rejected waste to a non-SPSA landfill for disposal.

Larry Richardson, principal and executive officer for ReEnergy, said he was encouraged by the news that SPSA would discuss his company’s proposal to purchase SPSA’s assets.

“We are very pleased to finally have the public opportunity to review the outcome of the waste-to-energy process,” Richardson said Thursday. “It dramatically shows now the positive impacts of our proposal versus the waste-to-energy privatization option.”

ReEnergy, working in tandem with Waste Industries USA Inc., Kaufman & Canoles, and Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge, is offering about $243 million for the authority’s assets.

The ReEnergy proposal would require SPSA’s member communities sign new 20-year contracts for waste disposal.

“What we just saw for the first time is really a net tip fee to the member communities of approximately $200 a ton,” Richardson said of the Wheelabrator proposal. “This compares directly to our proposal of an ‘all-in’ tip fee of $87.50 a ton.”

He added, “We’re very optimistic based on what we’ve seen here. To finally have something to compare our proposal to is a big step forward.”