Montgomery announced in a press release it would spend $625,000 to acquire the Infinitus Renewable Energy Park (IREP), including the equipment, building and land.
The facility, which had billed itself as a potential model for lifting recovery rates, opened two years ago but quickly went out of business. It cost $35 million to build.
Mixed-waste processing facilities aim to separate plastics and other recyclables from MSW streams. The concept has been controversial in recycling circles.
In addition to the $625,000 sum, the City agreed to cover “other consideration,” including legal fees. Florida-based Infinitus Energy agreed to promptly file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and ask the judge to approve the transfer of property to the City.
At the Montgomery City Council meeting on July 19, Mayor Todd Strange said the agreement and bankruptcy filing will avoid what could have been a lengthy court process, The Montgomery Advertiser reported.
Strange said the City is looking for another operator to run the plant.
“Although it’s been a long road, today marks a significant step toward bringing one of the most technologically advanced recycling facilities in the nation back on-line,” Strange stated in the press release. “Our vision is to find a partner who can not only take over operations at the facility and succeed, but we want to find someone who will lead us into the future and set an example other cities can follow.”
The city’s finance director has met with at least five potential facility operators in recent months and will continue meeting with interested parties, according to the press release. The City wants to find an operator that won’t require ongoing payments from the City and its solid waste authority.
“Any potential operator must agree to take the facility and process recycling without any additional financial commitments on behalf of the City and Authority,” the press release noted.
Strange previously said that once the facility transfer was completed, the City would likely switch to single-stream collections instead of a mixed-waste collection system. A potential switch to single-stream was not mentioned in the recent press release or City Council comments.
Tuesday’s announcement came after months of negotiations between the parties over the future of IREP, which opened in April 2014 but closed in October 2015 as a result of low commodities values. Kyle Mowitz, owner of Infinitus Energy, previously said the contract between the City and IREP left all the market risk squarely on the company and none on the City.