(The Center Square) – Spokane City Council members on Monday approved two multi-million-dollar contracts for both ongoing mechanical repairs at Spokane’s waste-to-energy incinerator plant and to dispose of excess or non-processable solid waste material from the facility.

The council approved a five-year pact that will pay $4.5 million annually to Kirkland-based Waste Management of Washington for transportation and disposal of so-called “bypass waste” at the plant. The service contract takes effect in mid-November and can be renewed after five years. It has initial transportation pricing of $58.95 per ton for the first year and can adjusted based on the federal consumer price index thereafter.

According to city documents, Waste Management was the preferred of three bidders. Responses were also received from Waste Connections of Vancouver and Regional Disposal Co. of Redmond.

The facility’s operating permit does not allow trash to accumulate on site, and violations can result in fines. Bypass waste is described as municipal solid waste suitable for combustion but not burned due to seasonal peaks, reduced operations due to maintenance, or other excess capacity issues at the facility. The contract specifically excludes recyclable materials and other materials deemed unacceptable, such as hazardous waste.

Bypass and non-processible wastes will be taken to various transfer or disposal sites around the region. The contract says Waste Management bears responsibility for accidents during transport or nuisances such as spills, leaks or odors.

Located near Spokane International Airport, the waste-to-energy facility burns municipal solid waste and recovers energy in the form of electricity. It can incinerate up to 800 tons of waste a day, generating 22 megawatts of electricity – enough to power 13,000 homes – that is sold to Avista Utilities, earning about $5 million in power sales annually, according to city information. The process reduces solid waste volume by 90% and the resulting ash is considered biologically inert.

Maintaining the WTE facility was the subject of a separate contract. The council approved a one-year pact for $2.2 million with Knight Construction and Supply Inc. of Deer Park for mechanical repairs, including specialized millwright services and both scheduled and emergency maintenance.

Knight Construction was the only bidder and the contract, which takes effect Nov. 1, was a second renewal with the possibility of four additional annual renewals with pricing subject to prevailing wage rates.

Expenditures for both contracts had previously been budgeted and no opposition was voiced by council members in approving the agreements.