Covanta to close two biomass plants in Maine

Energy-from-waste firm Covanta Energy Corp. has announced that it will soon close two of its seven US wood-fired biomass power plants.

The plants are located in West Enfield and Jonesboro, Maine, towns that are roughly 110 miles apart.

Covanta plans to take the facilities offline by the end of March due to lower fossil fuel prices that have weakened demand for biomass energy, according to media reports.

Both of the 24.5MW plants began operations in 1987, and were acquired by Covanta in 2008. Each plant roughly processes 550 dry tons of biomass waste materials each day, and the resulting power has been sold to ISO-New England, a regional transmission organisation.

James Regan, a Covanta spokesman, told Biomass Magazine that the company would continue to evaluate the future of the facilities.

Covanta's five remaining US wood-fired power plants are all in California—a state where the biomass power industry continues to dwindle in the midst of expiring energy contracts and low energy prices—in the cities of Oroville, Burney, Westwood, Delano and Mendota.

The company also operates more than 40 waste-to-energy plants.

The Professional Logging Contractors (PLC) of Maine is calling on the Maine cabinet and legislative leaders to take action to sustain Maine's biomass electricity production in the wake of news that Covanta Energy plans to shut down its two Maine biomass plants.

According to the trade body, the news delivers a "huge blow to the logging industry in Maine" which has sold woody biomass waste from logging operations to the plants for "years".

"This announcement should serve as a wake-up call to both the LePage (Governor of Maine) administration and Maine legislators about the dangers of inaction when it comes to formulating energy policies that will benefit our state's economy, environment, and future," PLC's executive director, Dana Doran, said.

"This is a perfect example of an area where common sense needs to be applied to policy to consider the true cost of our energy, not just the price per kilowatt hour."

The trade body added that it expected a number of job losses as a result of the closures.

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