Nashua settles suit over gas collection system
NASHUA — Nine months after a civil lawsuit was filed against the city, a settlement has been reached between Nashua and Fortistar, the company that converts gas into electricity at the local landfill.
“I think everybody is glad this is coming to an end,” city attorney Stephen Bennett said Monday.
Fortistar, under the name of Suncook Energy LLC and Four Hills LLC, filed a legal suit against Nashua on Oct. 29, 2013, at the U.S. District Court in Concord after the city issued the company a notice of termination.
“The real issue here is that the city needed more control of the gas collection system in order to prevent or minimize odors,” Bennett said. “This settlement ends the litigation.”
Once the July 30 closing date approaches — pending official approval from the Nashua Board of Public Works and the Board of Aldermen — the city will begin maintaining and operating the landfill’s gas collection system. Its main priority, according to Bennett, will be for zero odors to be transmitted from the Four Hills Landfill.
Aside from the legal settlement, city officials are expected to award a new, 25-year contract for the landfill gas project development and operations to PPL Renewable Energy of Allentown, Penn.
Although the company will provide services to assume operation of the existing gas-to-energy facility and flare, and to further develop the landfill project, the city will “retain control of the gas collection system, including operation, expansion, maintenance, monitoring and reporting related to the collection system,” states a memo to Mayor Donnalee Lozeau.
The city’s primary concern is to have a handle on unintended releases of gases and odors, which will now be managed by the city, according to the memo. The city will pay Fortistar $525,000 to take control of the gas collection system.
Under the proposed agreement, the city will collect gas from the landfill gas collection system and deliver all of the gas to PPL at a defined delivery point for PPL to either use in its engine or the flare. PPL will own the engines and other electrical generation components, while the city will control the gas collection system, a different approach than what has been part of the city’s contract with Fortistar.
The city is under court order to finalize its pending contract by Aug. 1, according to a letter from John Griffin, chief financial officer for the city. All revenue generated from the contract will be credited to the city’s Solid Waste Fund, Griffin said.
The Board of Public Works has already backed the terms of this settlement, but will again make a more formal vote during a meeting Tuesday. The Board of Aldermen will consider the new contract with PPL Tuesday night, an agreement that is being recommended by the aldermanic Finance Committee.