Covanta shutters two Maine biomass facilities

The Professional Logging Contractors (PLC) of Maine issued a statement urging Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s administration and legislative leaders to take action to sustain Maine biomass electricity production in the wake of news that Covanta Energy plans to shut down its two Maine biomass plants, affecting more than 2,500 jobs in the state’s logging industry.

Covanta, Morristown, New Jersey, operates two of the six large stand-alone biomass electricity plants in Maine, and plans to shut down both in March due to lower fossil fuel prices that have weakened demand for biomass energy.

The announcement of the impending closings of Covanta’s Jonesboro and West Enfield, Maine, plants is a huge blow to the logging industry in Maine which has sold woody biomass waste from logging operations to the plants for years, the association says in a press release. With the announcement by Covanta, only four large biomass electricity plants, all owned by ReEnergy LLC, will remain in operation in the state.

“This announcement should serve as a wakeup call to both the LePage 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 Executive Director Dana Doran, says. “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.”

PLC says the shutdown of the two Covanta plants will result in job losses that will be devastating for some logging companies. The effects will be worse coming on the heels of paper mill closures in 2015 that have already placed strains on the industry, says the PLC.

The PLC says it will work with its members, biomass electricity producers, the LePage Administration and local legislators to seek solutions to the challenges facing the biomass industry in Maine and the loggers who supply biomass to local mills.