Power Plant of the Week - Covanta, Haverhill

Remember the garbage crisis of the early 90s? Landfills were running out of space and soon there would be no place to put our trash. The reason for this crisis was the forced closure of many municipal landfills due to increasingly stringent environmental regulations promulgated by the EPA. Luckily, citizens were able to keep making garbage unabated because the market responded to this crisis by building mega-landfills in the hinterlands and trash incinerators [a.k.a. Waste to Energy (WTE) facilities] throughout the Northeast. The Covanta Haverhill WTE facility is a classic example of the genre. Its located off I-495 by exit 48.

It was built in 1989 and operated by a company called Ogden Martin until it was acquired by Covanta (NYSE: CVA) a couple years ago. The plant consistently produces approximately 40MW of output although it is capable of peak output around 49MW. Its located in the NEMA zone which needs all the capacity it can get. Currently, if you live in the following towns, your garbage is probably incinerated by this plant: Haverhill; Lawrence; Hudson (NH); Windham (NH); Stoneham; Reading; Wakefield; Melrose; Danvers; Lynnfield; Middleton; Essex; Littleton; Harvard; Ayer; Groton; Bedford; Burlington; Chelmsford; Dracut; N. Reading; Tewksbury; Tyngsboro; and Westford. On behalf of Covanta, I'd like to ask you to never, ever throw mercury containing items in the garbage (CFLs, thermometers, old thermostats). Mercury in the waste stream causes them terrible problems and could lead to violations of their air emissions permits.

If you've ever wondered what a day in the life looks like for a New England WTE plant, check out this Youtube video about the plant produced by Renewable Energy World.

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