The nearly two hour long work session about the proposed
contract with Covanta Energy for the Sustainable Energy Facility brought some
concerned citizens out to hear more about the $32.2 million waste-to-energy
operation discussed by New Hanover County board and staff members and Covanta
County manager Chris Coudriet told commissioners they could
go into extraordinary detail about the contract on Monday and also make as many
modifications as they would like.
The debt service for the $32.2 million loan would be paid
back at $2.2 million per year, including an interest rate of about 4.25 percent,
for the 20-year timeframe. Those numbers are projected to increase slightly,
said Beth Schrader, strategy and policy manager.
Commissioner Rick Catlin asked about his main concerns with emission
levels and flow control. Emission levels showed Titan America’s updated Title V
requirements compared to what the Covanta contract would allow.
To lower the levels, an additional $1.65 per ton would be
added onto the tip fees, equivalent to 11 cents per month for homeowners, Schrader
“For 11 cents a month, I’m all in,” Commissioner Jonathan
Schrader said the contract already includes netting,
voluntary reduction of emissions standards, represented in the estimated
Commissioners Jason Thompson, Catlin and Barfield said they
believe residents will change their habits and recycle as a result of trash
Thompson said water usage has decreased significantly since
those rates increased a couple of years ago.
Chairman Ted Davis said a lot of people have been
misinformed that funds for refurbishing the landfill would come out of ad
valorem tax funds, but that would only be the case if the trash weighs in at
more than 150,000 tons.
Davis also said that flow controls have been an issue since
he first came on the board.
“Word on the street is that it will be challenged,” Catlin
When the county’s flow control was lost before, he said the
county only lowered its rates to $25 per ton and did not get creative with
other flow control options.
“I’ve been hearing there’s going to be a challenge on flow
control as long as I’ve been on this board as well,” Davis said, adding that it
is a possibility that something could be coming down the pipe.
If the landfill is not refurbished, the other option is to
transport the waste to Sampson County.
Residents can sign up to speak for or against the proposed
contract as part of the public hearing at Monday’s regular commissioners
meeting at 9 a.m. in the historic courthouse.