A potential buyer could turn Pittsfield’s waste-to-energy plant into a transfer station. This is news for city officials | Berkshires Center
PITTSFIELD – Community Eco Power may have found a buyer for its waste-to-energy facility on Hubbard Avenue in Pittsfield.
In a letter to employees, the company chief said the future use of the 5.8-acre Pittsfield facility, with its signature smoke, could be a waste transfer station.
An anonymous source sent the letter to The Eagle. The Eagle was able to verify that Eco Power Community the employees had received it. He was sent by Richard Fish, the president and chief operating officer of the North Carolina-based company, which also has a plant on the banks of the Connecticut River in Agawam.
The Eagle left voicemails on Fish’s cellphone on Saturday. He did not answer.
Contacted by phone Saturday, Mayor Linda Tyer told The Eagle the city didn’t know anything about the plans.
“We have not been made aware of this latest development, which is obviously disappointing to me as it has a significant impact on how we deal with the city’s solid waste,” she said.
Despite the company filing for bankruptcy early last year, Community Eco Power’s two facilities in Massachusetts have remained in operation. The company had said its intentions were to keep the facilities running while putting its financial affairs in order.
In August, following the company’s Chapter 11 filing, the City of Pittsfield entered into a three-year agreement to continue its relationship with Community Eco Power.
Tyer confirmed on Saturday that the agreement includes a clause that the city will receive a year’s notice if Community Eco Power decides to shut down or discontinue service. It is unclear if, or how, this clause would be honored, should a sale of the facility go through.
It is important to note that, as Fish’s letter indicates, any sale would be subject to bankruptcy court approval.
According to the company’s website, Community Eco Power’s Pittsfield plant processes 240 tonnes per day of solid waste generated by residences and commercial operations throughout Berkshire County. The waste combustion plant produces more than 450 million pounds of steam, as well as 3.5 million kilowatt hours of electricity.
Fish’s letter to employees states that the company has “attracted interest from various buyers who wish to continue to operate the facilities as they are currently operated, as well as buyers who wish to convert the facilities into transfer stations.” We have carefully considered these offerings because these options can impact all stakeholders: customers, suppliers, the communities we serve, and each of you.
“Recently, we signed a non-binding letter of intent with a company interested in the [Agawam] installation as a transfer station as well as a company interested in installing Pittsfield as a transfer station.
Fish wrote that a sale “will take months.” He wrote that employees can expect another update by February 21.
“Thank you for your efforts to keep the factories operational as we work through the process,” the letter concludes.
“If it only goes to a transfer station,” Tyer said, “that means our solid waste, our garbage, will have to be, essentially, collected or collected, collected, at the transfer station and then transported to another installation for So, you know, the question is, what are the costs associated with that?
She said: “I’m sure there will be a lot more to come on this topic in the weeks to come.”
As of June 18, the Pittsfield plant had 21 employees. Six of them were salaried and the other 15 received hourly wage compensation, according to the bankruptcy filing. It is not known whether the staff remains the same.
The facility was built by Vicon Corp. in 1981. According to Eagle’s records, the waste-to-energy facility is one of the oldest such plants in the country. Community Eco Power purchased the two Massachusetts plants from Covanta Energy Corp. in 2019.
The company quickly filed for Chapter 11 because deferred maintenance at the Pittsfield facility was “a bit higher than expected,” Community Eco Power attorney Sam Anderson told The Eagle last July. . “Because of this, they had to take out loans.”