Weekly News Bulletin: Mar. 22-28, 2012


At Least Four Suitors Vying for Harrisburg's Troubled Incinerator

There are at least four contenders competing to take over the troubled Harrisburg, PA incinerator which has its host city swamped in $310 million of debt. Among them are the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority, Cambridge Project Development Inc. (Miami, FL) together with Energy Investors Funds (Needham, MA), Interstate Waste Services (Jersey City, NJ), and Wheelabrator Technologies Inc. (Hampton, NH) which is a subsidiary of Waste Management. Lancaster offered $124 million last year and also promised lower disposal fees. Waiting in the wings is the facility's current operator Covanta Energy Corp. (Morristown, NJ) which has a right of first refusal but has not yet made a bid. Covanta has a 10-year operating agreement that began in 2007. David Unkovic, the state-appointed receiver overseeing Harrisburg's finances, announced the list this week. The city of Harrisburg is responsible for the $310 million of debt held by the Harrisburg Authority that owns the 40-year-old plant and has skipped $65 million of payments. Dauphin County and bond insurer Ambac Assurance Corp. have made payments on the debt when the city failed to do so. The county and insurer are suing the city to recoup their payments, restructuring costs, and principal and interest owed to the county and insurer have expanded the burden...Read More »



Waste Connections to Offer Stock; Girding for Veolia?

Waste Connections, Inc. (The Woodlands, TX) said it intends to issue 12 million shares of its common stock in a public offering. The move has already raised speculation that the company is bolstering its position to make a play for at least a portion of Veolia Environnement's US operations, which were put up for sale in December. However, Waste Connections makes no such disclosure and says that the proceeds of the offering will repay the unhedged portion of outstanding borrowings under its senior revolving credit facility and may use any remaining proceeds for general purposes, including possible acquisitions, the repayment of other indebtedness, capital expenditures and increasing working capital. Morgan Stanley is serving as the sole underwriter for the offering...Read More »



Federal Government to Require Contractors to Recycle E-Waste

The US government is crafting a rule that would bar contractors who use computers or other electronics devices bought with federal dollars from dumping them in landfills. The new rule is part of a broader Obama Administration effort to lead by example and encourage the responsible recycling of scrap electronics (e-waste). E-waste, which contains some toxic materials is one of the fastest growing segments of the waste stream and often ends up in landfills or developing countries where it poses a threat to human health and the environment. The EPA estimates that in 2009, 2.37 million tons of computer equipment were thrown away, but only a quarter of it was recycled. The new rule would require government contractors to send old electronics equipment to recyclers certified through federally recognized programs, said Stephen Leeds, senior sustainability officer at the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). Earlier this month, the GSA with an annual IT budget of nearly $80 billion, applied the e-waste dumping ban to its own agencies. The Obama administration's e-waste push began last summer when the Environmental Protection Agency released a National Strategy for Electronic Stewardship...Read More »



WCA Waste Shareholders Approve Merger with Macquarie Infrastructure

WCA Waste shareholders have formally approved the $526 million merger agreement with Macquarie Infrastructure Partners II, a New York-based infrastructure investment fund. The deal was announced in December in which Macquarie agreed to pay $6.50 for each WCA share, representing a 30 percent premium to its recent market price. All Series A preferred stock will be redeemed and all of the company's existing credit facilities will be partially or completely refinanced. WCA said its board unanimously approved the deal which will close in the first quarter of 2012 and be financed through a combination of shareholder capital from the fund and new underwritten credit facilities...Read More »



DOE and Ameresco Open $795 Biomass Energy Plant at Savannah River

The US Department of Energy announced the opening of a $795 million biomass cogeneration facility at its Savannah River National Laboratory. Project developer, Ameresco, Inc. (Framingham, MA), which built the plant under a Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC), said that it is the largest such facility in this nation's history. The power plant will convert about 325,000 tons of fuel per year, including local forest residue and wood chips into 20 megawatts of electricity. It replaces an antiquated 1950s-era coal burning facility and is expected to yield $944 million of energy, water, operations and maintenance savings over its initial 19-year contract period...Read More »



Covanta Shakes up Management to Focus on Growth

Covanta Holding Corp. (Morristown, NJ) announced several management reassignments within its senior team in order to focus more sharply on organic growth, new technology and project development initiatives. Effective immediately, Seth Myones becomes EVP and Chief Operating Officer, John Klett becomes EVP and Chief Technology Officer, and Matthew Mulcahy becomes SVP, Head of Corporate Development. "Seth, John and Matthew each have long and successful track records with Covanta. This realignment is consistent with our strategy to seek continuous operational improvement and to grow organically while also developing technology and pursuing long-term growth prospects," said Anthony J. Orlando, Covanta's President and CEO...Read More »



WCA Waste Posts 19% Jump in Yearly Revenue, Earnings Down on Charges

WCA Waste Corp. (Houston, TX), which recently agreed to be acquired by Macquarie Infrastructure Partners II, a New York-based infrastructure investment fund, released its year-end financial results for 2011. The company said increased waste volume and recent acquisitions propelled annual revenue up by 19.3 percent to $273.8 million from $229.5 million in 2010. Operating income rose by 4.2 percent to $24.2 million in 2011 from $23.3 million in 2010. However, earnings were hurt by the early extinguishment of debt, rising fuel costs, merger and acquisition related expenses and related integration costs, and severe weather conditions in several markets. Consequently, the company recorded a net loss of $7.1 million, or $0.32 per share, compared to a loss of $2.6 million, or $0.13 per share, for 2010. Management says that it continues to seek acquisitions within its existing footprint in order to boost efficiency through increased asset utilization...Read More »



Casella Posts Higher Q3 Revenue but Earnings Hurt by Charges

Casella Waste Systems (Rutland, VT) said fiscal third quarter revenue increased on collection pricing growth but that earnings were hurt by a couple of hefty impairment charges. The company recorded a net loss that widened to ($24.6) million, or ($0.92) per share from ($6.4) million, or ($0.24) per share a year earlier. The company recorded $15.8 million charge related to its investment in US GreenFiber LLC, which manufactures insulation products from recovered paper fiber. Revenue for the quarter rose by 2.6 percent to $114.6 million from $111.6 million a year earlier, largely as a result of higher pricing and volume. These were offset by $1.4 million decline in revenue from its waste-to-energy facility which suffered the steep drop in energy prices. "Most of the core fundamentals of the business were positive in the quarter, with higher collection pricing, improving landfill volumes, and continued customer adoption of Zero-Sort® Recycling services driving higher recycling volumes," said chairman and CEO John W. Casella...Read More »



EPA Delays Expanding Renewable Fuel Rule

The US EPA said it will delay plans to add a "renewable gasoline" category and several new feedstocks to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) as proposed in January while the agency takes time to consider negative comments it received about the changes. The proposal called for qualifying camelina oil, energy cane, giant reed and napiergrass as new sources of transportation fuel. EPA sees producers using camelina oil seeds to make naphtha, liquefied petroleum gas and renewable diesel, including jet fuel and heating oil. It said the grasses could be used to make naphtha, ethanol and renewable diesel, including jet and heating oil. The National Environmental Coalition on Invasive Species objected to the feedstocks, arguing none are native to the US and at least two have been shown to cause economic and environmental damage. EPA also planned to add renewable gasoline to five existing fuel types tracked by the RFS: cellulosic biofuel, biomass-based diesel, advanced biofuel, renewable fuel and cellulosic diesel. EPA said it would address the comments in a subsequent final action...Read More »



WM Names New Chief Strategy Officer, Joins Leadership Team

Waste Management, Inc. (Houston, TX) has appointed John Morris as the company's new chief strategy officer, making him a member of the company's senior leadership team. He replaces Bill Caesar who is now president of WM Recycle America (WMRA), who in turn replaced Pat De Rueda who moved out west. Morris joined Waste Management in 1994 and has held a number of field-based positions including his most recent role of area vice president of the Greater Mid Atlantic area...Read More »



Waste-to-Fuel Company Enerkem Sees IPO Priced at $17-$19 per Share

Waste-to-biofuels and chemicals company Enerkem Inc. (Montreal, QC) said it expects to sell 7.25 million shares at between $17 and $19 each in its initial public offering of its common stock. Last month, the company filed with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission for an IPO of up to $125 million. The company said in the filing that it will use proceeds from the offering for research, capital requirements and to construct and develop facilities. Enerkem recorded a net loss of C$26.2 million ($26.43 million) for the year ended December 31, 2011...Read More »



WM Opens New Organics Recycling Facility in Arizona

Waste Management, Inc. (Houston, TX) has opened a new organic waste recycling facility in Maricopa, Arizona, at the site of its Sierra Estrella landfill there and in partnership with its subsidiary Garick LLC. Garick manufactures and markets biomass derived fuel, and a line of organic lawn and garden products. The new Maricopa Organics Recycling Facility will produce fuel from organic wastes that will be sold primarily to Frito-Lay to run its Casa Grande, Arizona facility. In addition, the facility will also produce compost and mulch for local use. Waste Management purchased a majority stake in Garick in September 2010 to expand its organic recycling business and compliment its other similar investments in Terrebon LLC and Harvest Power Inc. as it seeks to derive more value from the wastes it collects while serving of clients and their sustainability goals. Overseeing the Arizona operation is Arizona-New Mexico area vice president Pat De Rueda, who until last January, had been head of WM Recycle America but left the post to live closer to his family...Read More »



Synagro to Build Biosolids Recycling and Green Waste Facility in Florida

Synagro Technologies, Inc. (Houston, TX) recently signed an agreement with Charlotte County, Florida to build and operate a regional biosolids and green waste Bio-Recycling Center at the county's landfill near Punta Gorda. Synagro said that new more stringent regulations pertaining to the land application of biosolids as well as limited options in southwest Florida, much of which lies within sensitive watersheds, is driving the need for its technology. Work is to begin by the end of this year on a facility that will recycle about 50,000 tons of biosolids per year...Read More »



Plasco Expects to Sign Waste-to-Energy Contract with Ottawa this Month

Plasco Energy is confident that the City of Ottawa, Ont. will soon sign a long-term contract with them to process the city's waste through its advanced waste-to-energy plant. That contract will help the company as it seeks to secure debt financing for constructing the $175-million project after the city's council endorsed the deal last December. Plasco CEO Rod Bryden recently told the Ottawa Citizen that "There are no issues between us and the city, but it is a very detailed contract, and it's been careful work by both the city's inside and outside counsel and our own lawyers." Plasco has operated a commercial demonstration facility for the city since 2006. Under a new agreement would build a much larger scale version of the plant capable of processing 300 tons per day...Read More »



Covanta Partners with Steinert US to Boost Metal Recovery

Covanta Energy Corp. (Morristown, NJ), which owns and operates waste-to-energy projects, announced a strategic alliance with Steinert US Inc. (Walton, KY) to develop and expand Covanta's nonferrous metal recovery systems at its facilities. Steinert provides technology for metals separation as well as parts, application engineering and support. Covanta is eager to enhance its metals recovery from which it has made much more money in recent years in tandem with rising prices paid for scrap metal. In 2011, Covanta's 41 North American facilities recycled more than 400,000 tons of ferrous and more than 15,000 tons of nonferrous metal. "We are excited to be forming this strategic alliance with Steinert US to recover and recycle more metal from our EfW (energy-from-waste) facilities," says Seth Myones, president of Covanta Americas...Read More »



Perma-Fix Reports Big Jump in Sales on Higher Treatment Volume

Perma-Fix Environmental Services, Inc. (Atlanta, GA) said its recent acquisition of Safety and Ecology Holdings Corporation and higher waste treatment volume helped fourth-quarter revenue grow by 21.3% to $33.3 million, compared with $25.5 million a year ago. Waste treatment revenue alone grew to $17.6 million from $11 million a year earlier. Net income for the quarter was $5.9 million, or $0.10 per share, compared with $1.6 million, or $0.03 per share reported for the same period in the previous year. Company CEO Dr. Louis F. Centofanti said that the integration of Safety and Ecology is progressing and that his company is benefiting from the broader scope of services it now offers customers in both the government and commercial sectors...Read More »



Avalon Holdings Posts Improved Fourth Quarter Results

Avalon Holdings Corp. (Warren, OH), said fourth quarter revenue jumped 24 percent largely due to higher volume and pricing in its waste management business, revenues from which increased by 28 percent to $43.5 million in 2011 from $33.9 million in 2010. For the quarter revenues were $16.9 million compared with $11.3 million in the fourth quarter of the prior year. However higher transportation and employee costs mitigated net income which increased to $.7 million or $.19 per share in the fourth quarter of 2011 from $.1 million or $.02 per share in the previous year...Read More »


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