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Deadline nears for some Connecticut cities and towns to make trash management plans

John Minchillo

Forty-eight towns in Connecticut have until the end of the month to decide whether to stay with the state's waste authority or find another way to get rid of their trash.

The Materials Innovation and Recovery Authority is set to close its Hartford trash burning power plant because of changes in attitudes to waste-to-energy production.

Tom Kirk, the authority’s president and CEO, said the energy industry has changed over the last decade, and so has their ability to fund themselves.

“The lack of the ability to use taxpayer funds has really closed the door on the proposal to rebuild the facilities and instead we’re left regrettably having to find a less preferable means of dealing with our garbage,” Kirk said. “Specifically putting it on trucks and sending it to western and southern states for landfill disposal.”

Some cities and towns in Fairfield, New Haven and Hartford counties will need to decide whether to sign a five-year deal, which could mean they face higher trash costs, or opt to use a cheaper, private service provider.

“Most of our facilities have 30-year contracts to sell electric energy to our local utilities for as much as 20 cents per kilowatt,” Kirk said. “Today, that same energy sells for about 3 cents a kilowatt. That money — that missing revenue — is not available to renovate the facility.”

The authority has three other waste-to-energy plants in the state. The energy sector has become more competitive with new players like solar and offshore wind being seen as greener and cleaner alternatives.

An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.