Wheelabrator won’t sue SPSA

Published 10:36 am Saturday, April 16, 2016

By Tracy Agnew
Suffolk News Herald

A company jilted by the local trash disposal authority says it has made a “business decision” not to pursue legal action against the authority.

Wheelabrator, according to a statement the company released on Tuesday, will work directly with the eight member localities of the Southeastern Public Service Authority to try to get their business.

“We look forward to engaging in direct dialogue with those localities to discuss how Wheelabrator can address their residential and business waste disposal and metals recycling needs in an affordable, environmentally responsible manner,” company officials said. “In the meantime, we urge them not to sign any use and support agreements with SPSA.”

SPSA provides trash disposal for Suffolk, Franklin, Southampton County, Isle of Wight County, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

The localities have use and support agreements with the authority that expire in January 2018. The members are working to determine the way forward past that day.

Last month, after a request for proposals to determine the disposal method past 2018, the authority’s board voted to announce its intent to award the bid to RePower, a new company that intends to build a Chesapeake facility where it will convert the region’s trash to “energy pellets,” which will be sold to utility customers as an alternative to coal as a fuel supply.

That plan left behind Wheelabrator, which has been running a waste-to-energy plant formerly operated by SPSA since 2010, when it purchased the Portsmouth facility for about $150 million, helping the authority pay off a substantial amount of debt.

The facility converts the region’s trash into steam, which helps power Norfolk Naval Station and produces electricity that is sold onto the grid.

Wheelabrator filed a protest to the intent to award last month, claiming the authority added new criteria that were not in the request for proposals, met with RePower more than it met with Wheelabrator and offered preferred rates and credits to RePower that were not offered to Wheelabrator, among other protests. SPSA denied the protest.