Representative Client Projects
The following examples of client engagements undertaken by CommonWealth illustrate the scope and nature of the project development, procurement, strategic planning and litigation support services the firm traditionally provides.
Acted as local representative for, and principal project development consultant to, a major national developer of landfill gas (LFG) recovery facilities, assisting with the development of seven projects representing over 20 MW of generating capacity in the Mid-Atlantic states and New England. In that capacity, the firm screened and selected project sites; developed estimates of LFG yield; assessed project economic feasibility; prepared proposals for the acquisition of development rights from landfill owners; negotiated or re-negotiated gas rights/site lease agreements; acquired and implemented operations and maintenance, energy sale and utility interconnection agreements; prepared information in support of project financings; and acquired air emissions licenses and related facility construction and operations permits.
Evaluated the proposed acquisition of a low-head hydroelectric facility. Reviewed facility technical condition, estimated electricity generation rates based on river flow and turbine performance data, estimated operating and maintenance requirements and costs, prepared pro-forma economic analysis, reviewed federal and state operating licenses and environmental permits, and assessed ownership risks.
Assessed the technical and economic performance of a privately-owned and operated waste-to-energy facility financed in part with project revenue bonds owned by the client. Evaluated the reasonableness of operator projections of future revenues and costs based on a review of facility design parameters and historical performance data, analysis of contract terms, and assessment of local market conditions. Developed an independent pro-forma economic analysis as basis for decision-making by client, and assisted the client with structuring and negotiating work-out arrangements with a replacement facility owner/operator.
Assessed proprietary technology for upgrading landfill gas to pipeline quality gas in support of due diligence review of a landfill gas recovery project financed with tax-exempt municipal bonds. Reviewed technology concept and analyzed reference facility design and performance data. Prepared independent technical assessment report of prospects for and risks of the technology.
As members of a litigation support team, we provided technical advice in support of a class-action suit brought by the purchasers of tax-exempt public participation bonds against various parties to the development and financing of a failed MSW/sludge co-composting facility. In particular, we documented the development status of dry anaerobic composting technology in the U.S. and abroad at the time the facility was procured and constructed, assessed the reasonableness and adequacy of a third party engineering report developed by others in connection with the project financing, and prepared a preliminary assessment of the likely causes of the facility’s failure to operate based on a review of its design, construction and operations.
For an International Development Consortium
Prepared feasibility studies and successful proposals to develop 20-MW landfill gas recovery facility at a municipal landfill in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Developed projections of landfill gas quantities. Prepared conceptual designs for the landfill gas collection and treatment systems and for the energy recovery facility. Developed estimates of facility capital and operating costs utilizing both American and European equipment. Worked with Brazilian engineering firm to support development of innovative arrangements for electric power sales. Prepared proposals for submission to the municipality and to support negotiations with the City.
For a Landfill Owner in Ecuador
Supported assessment of the technical and economic feasibility of developing a landfill gas recovery facility. Developed projections of quantities of landfill gas that might be collected at the landfill based on local site conditions and South American landfill design and operating practices. Prepared recommendations for conceptual design of the landfill gas collection system, treatment system and energy recovery facility.
Reviewed the business arrangements and assessed the economics of a landfill gas-to-energy project whose owners leased gas rights from, and were indebted to, the firm’s client. Assisted with the development of work-out strategies, and provided guidance to the client-creditor in support of settlement negotiations with the project owners.
Performed an analysis of the need for new waste disposal capacity in Massachusetts in support of initiatives to extend operating permits and to gain approval for horizontal and vertical expansions at existing landfills. Acquired and reviewed data on current and projected capacity at existing and proposed disposal facilities. Developed model to project waste generation and diversion rates and to compare the demand and supply of waste disposal capacity under a wide variety of market conditions. Utilized model results as the basis for developing permitting strategies and for presenting comments to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.
On behalf of a group of private landfill owners, we performed a detailed assessment of a proposed rulemaking by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) intended to established a centralized, state-managed process for allocating development rights for MSW disposal capacity among competing private sector participants. The proposal was conceived as a key element of the state’s strategy to achieve long-term recycling objectives through the economic regulation of private industry, including efforts to ration market share among varying waste management technologies. The assessment was based on extensive analysis of state economic and environmental data and review of related public policy research from across the U.S. The study found that there was no evidence to support the premise of the rulemaking that higher tip fees would lead to increased recycling; that recycling-related economic development is not tied to high recycling rates or low disposal capacity; that the proposed policy was not required to protect public health or the environment, and that the policy would lead to both higher costs and higher economic and environmental risks. The findings of the study were presented to state officials with a companion legal critique, resulting in indefinite deferral of implementation of the proposed regulations.
Provided a range of project development services in support of a proposed U.S. 240 tons-per-day (6 Megawatt) waste-to-energy facility. Managed permitting activities for all state, federal and local permits to construct and operate the project, and prepared all permit applications and environmental impact reports including detailed analyses of air emissions control strategies and technologies. Participated in presentations to and negotiations with citizens groups, regulators and other public officials, resulting in successful acquisition of all necessary project permits and approvals. Prepared bids for, and participated in follow-up negotiation of, a contract for the long-term sale of project energy output and generating capacity. Also assisted in negotiation of long-term arrangements for the disposal of combustion ash and bypass waste associated with the project.
Act as user’s representative for a group of more than 80 Maine municipalities that have waste disposal agreements with the Penobscot Energy Recovery Company (PERC), owner of a refuse-derived-fuel (RDF) waste-to-energy facility in Orrington, Maine. Verify pass-through costs and tipping fee calculations, evaluate major capital expenditure proposals, and monitor and review operator compliance with facility technical performance standards and other requirements of the basic disposal agreements. Assisted with the restructuring of these agreements to avoid operator bankruptcy; devised strategies to continue facility operations during contract re-negotiation; and supported internal user-group approval of the revised agreements and of a mediated settlement with third parties. Currently working with the facility operator, local electric utility, state public utilities commission, and state finance authority to restructure the project agreements and refinance the facility in order to mitigate the impact of the existing power purchase agreement on the so-called “stranded costs” of the purchasing utility in the context of pending electric utility industry deregulation.
Performed an independent technical and economic feasibility assessment of a proposed construction and demolition waste processing and transfer facility. Reviewed the design basis of facility cost and performance assumptions, and surveyed prevailing prices and terms for competing disposal services and recovered products within the region. Performed a pro-forma economic analysis to establish debt service coverage and break-even tip-fee requirements for the facility under a range of plausible scenarios with respect to market share and related levels of operation. Prepared a detailed report suitable for presentation to prospective sources of project financing.
As members of a multi-disciplinary litigation support team, developed the economic basis for defending the firm’s client, a national integrated waste management services company, against a law suit brought by a major competitor. Prepared expert testimony and related legal documentation regarding future waste disposal market conditions in Massachusetts. Collected and analyzed historical data on tip fees and available disposal capacity at regional disposal facilities.
Performed a feasibility assessment of an unsolicited, private-developer proposal to construct and operate a solid waste recycling, processing and combustion facility. Examined the technical, economic, regulatory, and business risks associated with the project, which was based on an innovative technology for converting solid waste to fuel through a wet pulping and pelletization process, with subsequent combustion of the pelletized waste in a dual-fluidized-bed combustion unit. Compared the likely costs to the community of waste disposal at the proposed facility to existing alternatives in the regional waste disposal market. Presented findings and recommendations to an ad hoc advisory committee and elected officials.
Provided a third party assessment of future waste disposal market conditions in connection with the contemplated refinancing of the NESWC waste-to-energy facility by the contract communities, and the related restructuring of their project agreements with the facility operator. Identified and characterized the key factors that affect the balance of supply and demand for waste disposal capacity in southeastern New England. Accumulated and reviewed available data, and characterized the potential impacts on disposal prices of the key supply-demand factors and related trends. Prepared plausible disposal price scenarios for review by municipal officials and the NESWC professional staff.
For a High-Risk Mutual Fund
As sub-contractors to a civil engineering firm, we helped assess the technical and economic feasibility of a merchant septage treatment facility. Our work involved identifying septage hauling/disposal practices as well as disposal capacity and pricing trends in the southeastern Massachusetts septage treatment market. We also evaluated the developer’s cost and revenue projections, and provided a qualitative assessment of business risks associated with the project. At the client’s request we reviewed our findings with the developer and project bond underwriters. We also performed a walk-through evaluation of a recycled glass beneficiation plant for the same client.
For the City of Chelsea, Massachusetts
Recommended new user fee rate schedule for solid waste collection and disposal services provided by the City. Analyzed collection and disposal quantities and costs for various classes of waste generators. Identified and evaluated various user fee approaches and rate schedule alternatives.
Played lead role in preparing a long-term solid waste management plan, and subsequently, in privatizing a municipal solid waste transfer station and drop-off recycling facility. Developed detailed procurement action plan based on inter-agency review of service requirements and business objectives; prepared comprehensive RFP; and assisted with the evaluation of vendor technical and financial qualifications and proposals.
Principals of the firm managed the procurement of a privately financed, 300 tons-per-day (TPD) materials recover facility (MRF). Prepared the RFP and related procurement documents; evaluated business, technical, and pricing proposals; supported the vendor selection process; and negotiated a long-term service agreement. Represented the County in monitoring vendor activities through facility detailed design, construction, start-up and testing.
Assisted with privatization of curbside collection services for residential waste and implementation of a user-fee payment system through the award of an exclusive residential collection franchise. Worked with local officials and a multi-disciplinary team of professional advisors to identify service requirements and preferred business terms, prepare procurement documents, and evaluate vendor proposals. Through participation in public hearings supported the vendor selection and contract award process.
Assisted with re-permitting existing operations, and permitting the proposed expansion, of a privately-financed infectious waste processing facility. Worked with the client to finalize facility process design and operating plans, documented potential environmental impacts and mitigation measures, and prepared narrative form permit applications as required to obtain a “site assignment” and related authorizations to construct and operate a special waste handling facility within the Massachusetts multi-tier permitting framework. The facility was designed to employ innovative, non-burn technologies developed by the client to disinfect and recover the recyclable components of so-called “red bag” wastes and “sharps.”
As member of a multi-disciplinary project team, acted as principal advisor on all business issues relating to the procurement of a long-term contract for the design, construction and operation of the Town’s first municipal wastewater collection, treatment and disposal system. In that capacity, worked closely with local officials to define the intended commercial arrangements between the Town and a competitively selected design-build-operate (“DBO”) contractor, consistent with special legislation governing the procurement, the requirements of the public funding source, and the risk profile acceptable to the Town. Assisted with preparation of the Request for Proposals (RFP) and related procurement documents, evaluated vendor business and price proposals, and played key role in timely negotiation of a 20-year service agreement with strong performance guarantees.
Assessed New England regional market for urban wood wastes, including contaminated materials recovered from construction and demolition (“C&D”) waste, in connection with the contemplated financing and development of a C&D processing facility to be owned and operated by the Town. Characterized structure of the wood waste market, acquired and developed waste generation/waste supply data, and surveyed regional market participants to identify materials output specifications and to evaluate likely levels of processed materials demand, for purposes of determining enterprise economic feasibility and an optimal facility design.