For immediate release - Dec. 15, 2004
TAVARES — The Lake County Board of County Commissioners and Covanta Energy signed Dec. 13 a new agreement regarding operation of the Okahumpka waste incinerator.
Lake County Commission Chairman Jennifer Hill and County Clerk Jim Watkins sign the new agreement with Covanta Energy as the remaining County Commission members look on.
The deal was originally struck in October and will be finalized later this week as the two parties execute the new agreement. The new contract with Covanta focuses on several areas of importance that are aimed to reduce the financial burden of operating the facility to Lake County taxpayers. A few examples include the County increasing its involvement in the waste capacity of the facility and the County gaining the ability to jointly oversee the operation and maintenance costs of the facility.
The Okahumpka waste incinerator began commercial operation in March 1991. The Covanta facility processes about 170,000 tons of solid waste per year while generating renewable energy.
The original contract for the facility was signed in 1988 by none of the current commissioners serving on the Lake County Board of County Commissioners. However, the contract has been of great concern to current Board members as costs of the operation had significantly ballooned. Without the settlement, the County would have budgeted $11.25 million this year for operation and debt payments of the incinerator.
The new agreement is expected to save taxpayers an estimated $26 million over the next 10 years. The agreement also included refinancing of bonds for the incinerator. The bond interest rate was reduced from an average of 5.85 to 4.16 percent and is expected to save over the lifetime, nine years, an average of $1.6 million per year for each of the nine years.
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