Carroll County officially released from incinerator partnership

Envision Frederick County will be posting more details and a few blog entries about what this means for Frederick County and the incinerator, but in the meantime, here’s the basic news, with links to the coverage in the Carroll County Times and Frederick News Post, and to the press releases from Carroll County government and Frederick County government.

In a significant, but long expected move, and via a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority and Frederick County, Carroll County has officially removed itself as a forty percent partner in the 1,500 tons per day, mass burn incinerator planned for Frederick County.


Three and a half years ago, a new, five member Board of County County Commissioners was elected in Carroll County, with a majority opposed to the “Waste-to-Energy” incinerator. Their opposition was primarily based on serious concerns about the financial risk of the project.

Among the reasons it has taken Carroll County this long to make it official, has been their desire to avoid having to pay a $3,000,000.00 fee for exiting the project.

One way they might have avoided the fee, or penalty, would have been if another county had stepped in to replace them. The Authority and Frederick County have approached other counties over the last three years, and maintain today that there is interest, but with Carroll County still in the contract, and with necessary permits not in hand (until very recently), that didn’t happen.

Because the Carroll County commissioners were committed to getting out of the contract before the 2014 election, they voted last summer to set aside $3,000,000.00 to cover the fee, or penalty, if a new partner wasn’t found, or other avenues for avoiding the fee proved unsuccessful.

For instance, the Carroll County commissioners and their attorneys examined the possibility that a missed contract deadline might have allowed them to avoid paying a $3,000,000.00 penalty if they backed out. It is possible that a few unresolved questions of that nature are part of the reason that the negotiation and changes to the MOU let them out of the contract for only one-third of the fee, or penalty.

As the press releases from both Carroll and Frederick counties make clear, the agreement allows or enables the incinerator project to move ahead, which, after Carroll County’s withdrawal, means attempting to recruit a new partner to replace Carroll County.

It remains to be seen if that is possible. What is certain is that inserting a new county into the contract is not something that can happen overnight, as any county considering the possibility would have to go through a controversial and hotly contest public process of their own.

In addition to everything else, because so many of the assumptions built into the economic model have changed — some dramatically — during the five years since the project was originally approved, such a process would certainly include a new and updated financial analysis. Incinerator opponents have long made the case that the assumptions were wrong in the first place, and are convinced that a fresh, accurate and detailed analysis will only serve to prove the Carroll County commissioners made the right decision.

Stay tuned…

Carroll County press release
Carroll Out of Waste to Energy Contract
Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Carroll County Times
Carroll to pay $1 million to exit trash incinerator deal
Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Frederick News Post
Carroll County released from waste-to-energy partnership
Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Frederick County press release

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Frederick News Post
Changes to WTE contract up for discussion tonight at Baltimore meeting
Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Frederick News Post
Carroll County removed from incinerator partnership
Wednesday, April 23, 2014