[NEWS] Mixed Feelings on Possible Closure of Massachusetts Trash Incinerator
– by Adam Frenier, August 2, 2016, New England Public Radio
Pittsfield city officials are trying to figure out their next step with the city’s trash incinerator poised to shut down in March. Covanta the operator of the waste-to-energy facility, says economic conditions are causing them to close the plant. This news has been met with applause by environmentalists and has sent at least one business scrambling.
The incinerator isn’t much on the eyes. It’s a gray, concrete building with several small chimneys on the roof and a large smoke stack next to it, the output of which you can see from a distance during the cold Berkshire winter. Along with commercial customers, Pittsfield trucks the garbage here that residents leave on their curb. And while it’s burned, steam is generated.
Much of it is piped eight-tenths of a mile just over the town line to Dalton, to Crane Paper.
Crane is the only maker of paper for US currency. During a recent tour, a turbine generating some of the electricity the factory needs screeches away. Most of the steam, though, is used in the paper-making process.
Rich Rowe, the head of Crane’s currency paper operation says if the Pittsfield trash incinerator does go off-line, the company will have to shell out several million dollars to buy a new boiler in order to generate steam. And going forward?
“Our energy costs would increase as a result of the change from waste-to-energy to actually just buying hydrocarbons,” Rowe says. “Even with low gas prices today, it would still be an increase in cost.”
And the city of Pittsfield would also get a financial headache. Mayor Linda Tyer says if the incinerator closes, the city might have to truck its garbage out of town.