State and Local Reaction to Approved Funding for Covanta

With a vote of 10-1, the City Council approved Mayor Linda Tyer’s Economic Development fund proposal for Covanta Pittsfield, LLC and took a crucial step in keeping the waste-to-energy facility open in the city.

The $562,000 in funding will go towards the establishment of a DEP-mandated Recycling Consolidation Enclosure and upgrades to a back-up boiler used to generate steam for Crane& Co. during periodic times when the energy from waste facility is offline for maintenance. The fund request was one third of a strategic effort to keep Covanta open, after the company announced their intention to close due to difficult economic conditions facing the facility. With the approved funds, support from Governor Baker and the state legislature toward an amendment to an energy bill and its provision of energy credits, and a renegotiated contract between Covanta and Crane, Covanta will remain open.

Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton noted the significance of this amended legislation on advancing environmental efforts and economic initiatives throughout the Commonwealth.

“The comprehensive energy diversification legislation signed by Governor Baker builds upon the success of the Commonwealth’s thriving clean energy economy that has created employment opportunities from the Berkshires to Cape Cod,” said Secretary Beaton. “By embracing renewable energy generation technologies, the Baker-Polito Administration continues to make progress towards reducing energy costs to ratepayers and achieving the emissions reductions targets set forth by the Global Warming Solutions Act.”

Senator Benjamin Downing, D-Pittsfield, vigorously advocated for this legislation, understanding its potential impact on the City of Pittsfield and surrounding communities.

“I am glad Pittsfield and Covanta were able to come to an agreement with the aid of the state. A working facility is good for Crane, good for the city, good for the environment and good for the local economy.”

By investing in the operations at the Covanta facility, the city will facilitate a continuation of waste hauling services without incurring necessary increased costs to residents if the company was to outsource waste disposal to other facilities; ensure the continued delivery of steam to local companies employing more than 400 people adjacent to the Pittsfield facility; avoids the impact of a new city expense of approximately $462,000 per year to truck waste and recycling to Springfield, Mass. and New York and loss of incoming revenue,  ultimately saving the City of Pittsfield close to $900,000 annually.

“In the wake of the news of Covanta’s closing and a potentially devastating impact, there has been a proactive, consistent and sustained collaborative effort among many stakeholders to reach a viable solution. I am deeply grateful to Governor Baker and Senator Downing for their support of the amended energy bill, and I am especially proud of the work and commitment demonstrated by the stakeholders involved that has allowed us to reach a beneficial outcome,” said Mayor Tyer.

Funds were requested from the Pittsfield Economic Development Fund in keeping with the city’s overall economic and community development goals and objectives of supporting businesses that are deemed to have a significant and positive impact on the city’s economy in retaining jobs and manufacturing innovation.

Covanta Business Manager Ken Ryan offered praise for the collective work which allows the waste facility – an operating staple in Pittsfield since 1981 – to remain open. Covanta has been providing waste-to-energy services to Pittsfield since 2007.

“We are very pleased that our Pittsfield Energy-from-Waste facility will continue to operate thanks to the efforts of many,” said Ryan. “The legislative support we have received from Senator Downing, the State Legislature and Governor Baker has improved the economics of the facility and recognizes the value the Pittsfield Facility provides in generating reliable, renewable steam energy for our long-term customer Crane & Co. We are also grateful for the support and efforts of Mayor Tyer. The grant funding will be put to good use and enables us to guarantee steam production and improve the recycling consolidation center with a new enclosure.”

With Covanta still in operation, local businesses such as Crane and Neenah Technical Materials can maintain their internal efficiencies.

For Crane, which has supplied the United States Treasury with its currency paper since 1879, Covanta’s steam power accounts for 70 percent of its energy needs, bypassing the usage of fossil fuel, there was a dedicated effort on the company’s effort to find a solution.

“We have worked hard alongside the other stakeholders to help develop a solution that provides for a good outcome for Crane, Covanta, the City of Pittsfield and many others in the Berkshires,” stated Rich Rowe, President, Crane Currency, U.S. Government Products.  “In the end, maintaining the Covanta facility in Pittsfield is important to our business and our 300 employees as it provides a reliable, renewable energy source for the operations of our mills.” 

In the absence of a feasible alternative, Neenah would be faced with a nearly $1 million investment to replace its steam supply – an undue hardship for a local, mid-sized business.

“Neenah Technical Materials was very pleased with the City of Pittsfield’s decision to provide funding a part of an overall solution to help keep Covanta open.  As a business located right here in Pittsfield that employs over 100 people, Neenah Technical Materials relies on Covanta to supply steam to make our products as well as process our solid waste.  Losing Covanta would have had a significant detrimental impact on our operation,” said Mill Manager Shawn Littrell.

The Pittsfield Resource Recovery Facility, operating as Covanta Pittsfield, LLC, is located on 5.8 acres adjacent to Crane.  The facility processes 240 tons per day of solid waste generated from residential and commercial operations throughout Berkshire County. Annually, the facility produces over 450 million pounds of steam as well as 3.5 million kilowatt hours of electricity used for facility operations. Throughout its history, the facility has offset the use of 16,000 gallons of oil per day by Crane.

For more information, please contact Roberta McCulloch-Dews, the city’s Director of Administrative Services, at 413-499-9322.