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Municipalities try to overcome Taylor concerns

Thursday August 18, 2011

A group of municipal representatives gathered in Walden Wednesday for what could be their final push to contract for garbage disposal with Taylor Biomass Energy before a deal with Orange County government blocks them.

Walden Mayor Brian Maher said he arranged the session to discuss shared concerns with parts of the 20-year contract the company has pitched to at least a dozen municipalities. Seven towns and villages were invited to meet with a Taylor salesman and talk by conference call with an attorney in Washington, D.C., he said.

"I'd love to see us sign the contract," Maher said.

The hitch is that Taylor has reached a tentative deal with Orange County that might preclude separate contracts with municipalities. The only exception now would be the City of Newburgh, which signed a 20-year pact last month — making it the first customer for the planned gasification plant.

Still, the company is free to negotiate with other municipalities until it finalizes a deal with the county.

Taylor option would save cash
Many localities stand to cut their garbage disposal costs by dealing directly with Taylor Biomass, which would charge them $66 per ton of household waste. The county, by comparison, charges them and private haulers $80 a ton to dump at its three transfer stations.

But local officials say they have been inhibited so far by the 20-year commitment and other contract terms, including cancellation costs, waste limits and the possibility of rate hikes if environmental rules raise costs for the company.

At least three municipalities — Walden, New Windsor and the Village of Goshen — have authorized contracts but haven't signed a deal. A fourth, Cornwall-on-Hudson, is holding a special meeting Thursday and may vote on a contract then if its concerns are resolved, Mayor Brendan Coyne said.

Plant to open in late 2012
Taylor started building its $134 million complex in December but has been pushing for weeks for the trash promises it needs to secure a $100 million federal loan guarantee. It expects to process 500 tons of municipal paste per day, along with another 550 daily tons of construction and demolition debris and waste wood.

The company has planned to open its plant by December 2012 and says it would heat organic waste materials, or biomass, into a gas that would then be used to generate 24 megawatts of electricity.

County Executive Ed Diana told lawmakers in closed meetings two weeks ago that he had negotiated a tentative deal with Taylor Biomass CEO Jim Taylor and expected to sign a contract by Aug. 12. A Diana spokeswoman didn't respond Wednesday when asked if the proposal had been signed.

Taylor would charge the county $65 a ton for disposal, the same price the county now pays Interstate Waste Services to truck garbage from its transfer stations to landfills.

By Chris Mckenna
Times Herald-Record

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