DEEP announces plan to redevelop MIRA facility

Connecticut waste-to-energy facility upgrades will cut in half the amount of trash burned and increase the recovery of recyclable materials.

February 8, 2018
Edited by Megan Workman
Municipal / IC&I

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has announced the selection of the Sacyr Rooney Development Team, Tulsa, Oklahoma, to modernize the Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority (MIRA) waste-to-energy facility in Hartford, Connecticut.

The facility is Connecticut’s largest waste facility and is set to undergo a transformation that will cut in half the amount of trash burned and dramatically increase the recovery of recyclable materials and organics, according to DEEP. The agency says one-third of Connecticut’s waste is sent to the MIRA facility.

The Sacyr Rooney Development Team is an alliance between Sacyr, a Spain-based firm specializing in complex infrastructure projects, and Naples, Florida-based Manhattan Construction Group, which has experience financing and building large-scale infrastructure projects. Other members of the bid team include Baltimore-based Synagro, a provider of biosolids and residuals options, and CWPM, a waste removal and recycling services company based in Plainville, Connecticut.

“One-third of the state’s trash (over 700,000 tons per year) is currently sent to the MIRA waste-to-energy facility on Maxim Road, Hartford, where material is combusted for energy generation. The facility’s aging equipment is prone to unplanned outages and MIRA had warned state officials that it would be unable to bear the cost of needed upgrades,” says DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee. “The Sacyr Rooney concept has the potential to provide significant environmental and economic benefits to the state, as well as significant improvements in host community impacts compared with the present state.”

DEEP says the environmental benefits of the MIRA upgrades include the recovery of more than 40 percent of incoming municipal solid waste (MSW) for beneficial uses by employing enhanced recycling, anaerobic digestion and composting technologies. The remaining material will be combusted for the production of electricity in a refurbished power system. Taking into account expected diversion and the reduced throughput, DEEP says the concept would reduce by approximately one-half the amount of waste currently combusted at the facility. The concept also helps maintain in-state waste management capacity rather than significantly increasing reliance on out-of-state landfilling, which is consistent with the state’s statutory waste management hierarchy as well as the 2016 Comprehensive Materials Management Strategy (CMMS).

The economic benefits include the potential to stabilize tipping fees throughout the regional waste system, reigning in costs for residents and businesses, according to DEEP. The Sacyr Rooney concept is projected to provide tipping fees that are lower than current MIRA contracted rates for many customers. Other benefits include the transformation of waste into commodities and the creation of new jobs.

For the city of Hartford, the Sacyr Rooney concept holds the potential for a higher host benefit payment, local hiring and purchasing, job training programs, a new education center, aesthetic improvements to the facility and site, remediation of existing contamination at a portion of the site, and increased public access to the riverfront, according to DEEP. Upgrades to the power system and the significant reduction in combustion at the site also will reduce the potential for environmental and human health impacts for residents of Hartford and surrounding towns. DEEP says it has established a process to ensure Hartford has a seat at the table for negotiations on moving the project forward.

DEEP will monitor negotiations involving Sacyr Rooney, MIRA and the city of Hartford aimed at reaching a final development agreement by August 2018. If an agreement cannot be reached, DEEP says it has reserved the right to invite another proposer, Mustang Renewable Power Ventures, to enter into talks with MIRA. Contracting will be followed by approximately three years of planning, permitting and construction before the new facility is fully online.

More information about the proposals and the RFP process is available online.