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February 1, 2010 | last updated December 1, 2011 4:13 am

Biddeford mayor denounces MERC plan

Biddeford Mayor Joanne Twomey has stepped down from a task force charged with determining the future of the city's trash incinerator, saying she no longer supports the plan the group devised.

The task force in October unveiled a plan to resolve Biddeford's issues with the Maine Energy Recovery Co. incinerator owned by Casella Waste Systems, which included relocating the trash processing to another city, and using the energy from burning trash pellets to lower electricity rates in Biddeford. But last week Twomey withdrew her support for the plan, saying it would not offer any benefits to Biddeford, according to the Portland Press Herald. Twomey told the paper Casella could not promise that the plan would reduce odor and noise in downtown Biddeford, and that the company did not specify how many Biddeford residents would receive lower electricity rates. Casella originally said electricity costs could be cut by as much as $400 a year per resident. She was also opposed to Casella seeking federal grants to pay for the new $15 million trash processing facility the company is proposing in Westbrook.

While Casella officials said the project can move forward without Biddeford's backing, other members of the task force said Twomey's decision could stall the project indefinitely. "I don't see this having a prayer of going anywhere without the full support of Biddeford's mayor," Peter Morelli, economic development director for Saco, told the paper.

Twomey said she is still deciding how the city should tackle its problems with MERC and Casella, which has a contract to process Biddeford's trash for another two years.

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