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Southeastern Virginia Trash Authority Seeks New Contract Options

In the aftermath of the termination of the RePower contract, the Southeastern Public Service Authority plans to move forward by creating both an interim strategy and a new plan for the future.

After months of debate, the Southeastern Public Service Authority (SPSA) decided to cancel its contract with RePower South due to delays and financial issues.

An August 23, 2017, article from The Virginian-Pilot reported, “The board of SPSA, which serves eight localities from Virginia Beach to Franklin, voted 10-6 to terminate its deal with RePower. The Spartanburg, S.C.-based company had proposed a $100 million trash-handling complex on the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River in Chesapeake, but it has run months behind in meeting key terms of the contract, including financing.”

According to the SPSA website, the original agreement was intended to achieve the following: “RePower South whereby the company will accept and process SPSA municipal waste reclaiming recyclable materials and processing the remaining waste into pellets that can be burned as a substitute fuel source in coal powered plants. RePower South will be constructing a $100 million facility in Chesapeake, Va.,where SPSA will deliver its municipal waste.”

In the aftermath of the termination of the RePower contract, SPSA plans to move forward by creating both an interim strategy and a new plan for the future.

“We currently have a service agreement with Wheelabrator Technologies, which owns a power plant here,” says Liesl DeVary, interim executive director and deputy executive director at SPSA.

The current contract with Wheelabrator ends January 24, 2018, but during its meeting on September 27, the SPSA board authorized an extension to that agreement.

“The extension would probably be for a short term,” says DeVary. “The next step for us will be to issue a new request for proposal (RFP).”

The goal behind working with RePower was to provide some possibly new services, but the bases were always covered with the current system of options.

“We do have a regional landfill that has plenty of capacity. When we issued that first RFP, it was to see if there was something else other than landfilling. That’s how the RePower contract came about,” says DeVary. “We still plan on issuing a new RFP, but we thought that instead of trying to rush, it would be best if we tried to extend our agreement with Wheelabrator. That gives us time to issue and evaluate a new RFP. Our back-up plan has always been to take all of the municipal waste to the regional landfill.” 

So far, with the new RFP that SPSA plans to release this fall, no new requirements will be added to the original RFP; however, that's still up for discussion during the October board meeting.

“The board is to discuss that. I am in the process of working with legal counsel on drafting that [RFP], and we will go over the details with them at our next meeting for them to decide whether they are going to make any changes to it,” says DeVary.

The SPSA serves eight communities in the region south of Hampton Roads Harbor and the lower James River in Virginia. Ultimately, SPSA’s decision to seek other options reflects its mission. “SPSA’s mission is to provide long-term waste disposal to its member communities in the most cost-effective way. That is what we are trying to accomplish,” says DeVary.

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