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Diana, Taylor reach trash deal

Saturday August 6, 2011

GOSHEN — Orange County Executive Ed Diana and Taylor Biomass Energy CEO Jim Taylor have reached a 20-year agreement committing the county to send trash from its transfer stations to the garbage gasification plant Taylor plans to build at his recycling business in Montgomery.

County lawmakers, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the privacy of the discussions, say Diana and Taylor agreed to the terms after a five-hour meeting on Tuesday and expect to sign a contract by 9 a.m. Aug. 12.

Diana, accompanied by three other county officials, briefed Republican lawmakers on the plans behind closed doors on Wednesday night, and was expected to hold another private talk with the full Legislature after its meeting on Thursday.

The deal would chart an entirely new course for as much as 500 tons of household trash deposited each day at three county-run transfer stations in New Hampton, Newburgh and Port Jervis before being trucked to distant landfills upstate and in Pennsylvania.

The new destination would be Taylor's plant, which — if his plans come to fruition — would be the first commercial facility in the U.S. to convert municipal waste into a gas that could be used to generate electricity.

The contract also would clear a critical financing hurdle for Taylor by satisfying the U.S. Department of Energy's demand for a long-term deal as a condition of the $100 million loan guarantee he has sought since 2009. The department wanted a 20-year contract to ensure Taylor's business will get enough garbage to be viable.

Diana also met with legislative leaders on Tuesday before his meeting with Taylor to discuss the negotiations. He has made clear to lawmakers that the contract decision is his alone, and that the Legislature will not vote on it.

Taylor couldn't be reached for comment on Thursday.

Diana issued a statement saying only that "discussions between the county and Taylor Biomass are continuing" and that no contract has been signed.

County officials hope that contracting with Taylor will enable them to close the Newburgh transfer station and avoid costly improvements the state demanded because of repeated environmental violations at the site. The county's capital plan shows $4 million in anticipated work at the facility, which might simply be closed instead if users can dump their garbage at the Taylor plant in nearby Montgomery.

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation says the department has referred the Newburgh violation notices to the attorney general after failing to resolve them with the county.

Under the proposed contract, Orange County would pay Taylor $65 per ton for waste disposal, the same price it now pays Interstate Waste Services, a New Jersey-based hauler, to truck its garbage to landfills. Last year, that totaled $9.4 million.

Taylor hopes to start operating his gasification plant by December 2012. The county is under contract with Interstate Waste contract until November 2013 but can sever the deal with 90 days' notice. If it does so, the county would need a new arrangement to truck its garbage to Montgomery.

By Chris Mckenna
Times Herald-Record

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