[Skip to main text]
Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority

The Connecticut Solid Waste System''s roots go back well beyond CRRA's creation in 1973:

Initial plans were laid for what was ultimately to be built into a statewide power system. The Rocky River Power Company was organized by J. Henry Roraback, a lawyer and politician, and permitted by charter to develop the power resources of the Rocky River in western Connecticut, just as the right to develop power in the Housatonic River had been granted to the Housatonic Power Company.

The Hartford Electric Light Company (HELCO) and the Connecticut Power Company (CP), which served the New London and Middletown areas and northwestern Connecticut, entered an historic power exchange agreement. HELCO agreed to supply CP with steam-generated electricity from its Dutch Point Station during periods of low water flow at CP's Falls Village hydro station on the Housatonic River. Conversely, CP would provide HELCO with hydroelectric power whenever there was a surplus of water at Falls Village, enabling HELCO to reduce its use of coal. It was the first formal agreement of its type in the United States.

> On Aug. 9, the Rocky River Power Company changed its name to the Connecticut Light and Power Company (CL&P). At the same time, the Housatonic Power Company, the United Electric Light and Water Company (which served Waterbury, New Britain, Norwalk and Greenwich) and the Seymour Electric Company were acquired by CL&P. Through this process, the Connecticut Light and Power Company system was born.

On Dec. 19, Hartford Electric Light Company’s South Meadows Station began active operation and was seen as a marvel of efficiency; the $5 million plant was equipped with coal conveyors and automatic stokers and burned 150 tons of coal daily. Newspaper advertisements and articles in the Hartford Courant praised the completion of the station.

Mr. Roraback, founder of CL&P, became CL&P’s president, serving until his death in 1937. His judgment and ability were key factors in the founding and successful expansion of the company.

One of the first commercial mercury cycle generating units in the world opened at HELCO’s South Meadows Station in Hartford. (Although the mercury-vapor cycle offered improved thermodynamic efficiency, its use was discontinued when mercury’s health hazards became known and major improvements in conventional steam turbines eclipsed the technology.

The Eastern Connecticut Power Company, an organization of local power plants in the eastern portion of the state, was merged into CL&P.
> The Connecticut legislature chartered the Metropolitan District (MDC), a non-profit municipal corporation, to provide drinking water and sewerage service on a regional basis.

In March, a great flood inundated power plants all along the Connecticut River, whose depth rose 37.5 feet. It was Hartford's worst flood ever. HELCO's South Meadows Station was described as looking like a lighted ship in a dark sea. The entire area was without power and communications for five hours, except for a few buildings receiving power from the Agawam, Mass. line.

In September, the Great New England Hurricane downed about half of Hartford's 400 miles of secondary distribution lines along the streets. Line crews from as far away as Detroit and Philadelphia were brought in to help restore service.

A coal-fueled steam generator was constructed at the South Meadows Station.

Another coal-fueled steam generator was constructed.

A joint committee began studying the advantages and disadvantages of a corporate merger between HELCO and CP and recommended a merger.

The worst natural disasters to strike Connecticut since the 1938 hurricane occurred when two floods ravaged facilities throughout the state. In August, the Naugatuck, Mad, and Quinebaug Rivers overflowed their banks following torrential rains. Hardest hit were the Naugatuck Valley, Winsted and Putnam, where there were complete interruptions of electric and gas service. Normal communications were cut off and ordinary routes were impassible, but CL&P's crews were on the scene quickly and electric service was rapidly restored to all customers

On Jan. 1, with the approval of stockholders of both companies, CP was merged into HELCO. The new company was reorganized into four management divisions: Central (the greater Hartford area), Stamford, New London, and Northwest (the Torrington area).

The electric utility industry and the nation experienced the biggest power failure in history: the Great Northeast Blackout of 1965.
The cause of the Nov. 9 failure originated at a generating station in Queenston, Ontario. As was common on a cold November evening power for heating, lighting and cooking was pushing the system to its peak capacity. At 5:16 p.m. Eastern Time a small surge of power coming from a generating plant in Lewiston, N.Y., tripped a relay (designed to prevent the line from being overloaded) disabling a main power line heading into southern Ontario at far below the line's rated capacity. This precipitated a redirection of the electric power being generated at a hydroelectric plant to flow from its usual northerly direction (toward Toronto) to a southerly direction (toward Canada's interconnections with the United States). The resulting surge of power from Canada overwhelmed the transmission lines in western New York, causing a "cascading" tripping of additional lines and resulting in the eventual breakup of the entire Northeastern transmission network into separate "islands." Some of these "islands" found themselves having more generation than load and some having more load then generation. These sudden imbalances between generation and load within individual "islands" resulted in a complete shutdown of electric power supply in each of them. Amazingly, HELCO's South Meadows Station was able to maintain its load. By morning, power had been restored throughout the Northeast. But this unique event was far greater than any other major power outage in terms of the size of the area and number of people affected, the trauma inflicted on society at large and its impact on the electric utility industry.

HELCO became affiliated with Northeast Utilities (NU).

HELCO corrected smoke problems at the South Meadows plant by converting from coal to oil.

CL&P installed four internal combustion jet-fueled turbines each with a nominal rating of 46 MW for peaking capacity at the South Meadows station. These units are classified as “black start” which means they have the capability to be started and brought to full capacity in minutes in the event of a power failure.

The Connecticut Siting Council (CSC) was first established as the Power Facility Evaluation Council following the passage of the Public Utility Environmental Standards Act.

CSC approved HELCO’s petition to construct an underground 115-kV transmission line between the South Meadows generating station and a proposed new substation at New Park Avenue and Kane Street in Hartford.
> The Connecticut General Assembly passed C.G.S. Sec. 22a-261 establishing the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority (CRRA). The act gave CRRA statutory responsibility to assist Connecticut towns in developing an integrated approach to solid waste management, combining source reduction, recycling, resource recovery, and landfills.

CRRA selected the South Meadows area of Hartford as the site of its second regional trash-to-energy (TTE) project, the Mid-Connecticut Project. (The first facility was located in Bridgeport.)
The Mid-Connecticut Project was proposed as a $150 million garbage-burning plant to resolve the region’s solid waste disposal problems. The site is located along the west bank of the Connecticut River, south of the Wilbur Cross Highway and north of Maxim Road and Brainard Airport. A portion of the site was presently occupied by the decommissioned CL&P South Meadows Generating Station.

In March, CRRA and the MDC entered into a Joint Planning Agreement for the Mid-Connecticut Project TTE facility. Initial planning goals included a process not only to convert municipal solid waste (MSW) to energy, but also to co-dispose of municipal sewage sludge generated by MDC from its regional operations. Although both were ambitious initial goals, the latter goal never materialized.

In February the Mid-Connecticut Project was introduced to Connecticut’s cities and towns. Subsequent to that meeting, a special task force composed of 26 chief elected officials was formed to work with CRRA and MDC so that local needs will be fully identified and served.
> On July 24, CRRA and MDC set a Jan. 1, 1981, deadline by which a sufficient number of towns in the Hartford and Waterbury areas must commit to the proposed Mid-Connecticut Project. Garbage from participating communities would be brought to the South Meadows plant in Hartford and burned to produce steam, which NU would generate into electricity.
> CRRA offered a guaranteed interim dump site and lower-than-expected estimated costs (due to the high price in oil increasing the value of garbage as an alternate fuel) to any of the 41 towns who decide to commit. Both CRRA and MDC promised towns with landfill problems that a site would be available to them next July 1, if they commit themselves to the project.
> A team consisting of CRRA and MDC staffs worked with engineers from the Leonard S. Wegman Company, consultant for MDC, and CRRA’s consultants, contacting municipal officials and gathering precise data on the volumes and types of waste the towns produce, as well as their current disposal situations and future plans, including choosing a site for a landfill.
> On Dec. 24, Hartford Corporation Counsel Alexander A. Goldfarb recommended that Hartford refuse to sign the contract to join the Mid-Connecticut Project unless it becomes open to various negotiations from the city. So far, about half a dozen towns out of 41 had agreed to join.

The Power Facility Evaluation Council became known as the Connecticut Siting Council (CSC) with the passage of PA 81-369, which expanded the Council’s original jurisdiction over the siting of power facilities and transmission lines to include hazardous waste facilities. The Council’s jurisdiction has since been extended to include various other forms of infrastructure including telecommunications sites.
> On June 16, Hartford officials said they were close to resolving concerns that have delayed the city’s possible participation in the Mid-Connecticut Project. Consultants recommended that Hartford lead development of the project, but warned municipalities that the proposed participation contract requires that they bear all the cost of development and any associated risks. At this point, eight towns had joined, including Bristol, East Granby, East Hartford, Newington, Rocky Hill, Simsbury and Southington.
> On Dec. 11, Hartford City Manager Woodrow W. Gaitor and a special task force of city officials recommended that Hartford join the project. The task force said it had negotiated a proposed agreement on issues surrounding the project’s impact on roads, the city landfill and the city’s tax base. The agreement must be approved by the City Council and CRRA’s board of directors. Hartford, which generates large volumes of garbage, was viewed as especially important to the project, for the facility must have at least 1,400 tons of garbage a day to be economically feasible; the now 15 towns agreeing to participate only generate 850 tons.

In February, CRRA settled disputes with Hartford over terms of an agreement for the city’s participation. On May 10, the Hartford City Council voted to commit to joining the project.
> In the years following the HELCO-NU affiliation, the integration of NU's operating companies continued. On July 1, HELCO was formally merged into CL&P. The service areas of the two operating subsidiaries became fully consolidated and a uniform rate structure was adopted.
> CRRA was in the process of sole-source negotiations, as opposed to opening the project up for a competitive bid process, with Combustion Engineering, Inc. (CE) of Windsor for the design, construction and short-term operation of the waste processing facility. A Joint Development Agreement between CRRA and MDC was executed and negotiations were being finalized with NU.
> CRRA signed a lease with the City of Hartford for long-term operation of the landfill in Hartford’s North Meadows.

The Connecticut Municipal Rate Law, requiring electric companies to contract with CRRA to purchase the power produced at the Mid-Connecticut Project and similar facilities at above-market rates, was passed.
> Financing for Mid-Connecticut was not finalized because negotiations with CE and NU were not concluded. These negotiations also prevented the completion of CRRA’s municipal recruitment effort.

On Jan. 26, state regulators approved a charge of 8.5 cents per kilowatt-hour for electricity from the planned Mid-Connecticut Project, saying that the figure is higher than current power costs but a long-term gain for ratepayers. Other expenses would add 2.5 cents for a total price of about 11 cents per kilowatt-hour. At that time, NU customers were paying 8.9 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity. The ruling allowed NU and CRRA to negotiate contracts, clearing the way for final agreement on a major portion of the recycling project. The CRRA-NU link would eliminate the need to burn about 750,000 barrels of oil per year, further diversify the state’s fuel mix and serve the state’s general policy of fostering recycling.
> On Feb. 22, CRRA decided to proceed with plans to build the TTE plant even without the commitments of more than half the tonnage initially sought.
> On Oct. 4, CRRA contracted with MDC to operate CRRA's Mid-Connecticut Project waste processing facility, Hartford landfill and transfer stations in Essex, Torrington, Watertown and Ellington, and to drive, operate, and maintain CRRA's 150-vehicle fleet. The contract runs through 2011.
> During October and November, CRRA argued before the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that its own pollution control devices were adequate to meet state air quality standards after the DEP’s air compliance unit recommended against permitting the plant unless it were built with scrubbers, devices that use alkaline mixtures to neutralize the acidic sulfur and hydrogen chloride gases created when trash is burned. CRRA maintained that scrubbers were unnecessary and too costly, but offered to add them later if air quality tests found they were needed.
> On Nov. 20, CRRA acceded to the wishes of Gov. William A. O’Neill by agreeing to install “scrubber” air pollution devices in the TTE plant. The towns that enlisted in the project were told earlier this year that they would pay about $15 a ton to send their trash to the plant. Higher interest costs already had increased that fee to between $18 and $20 per ton. The scrubber construction would again increase the tip fee around $8 to between $26 and $28 per ton. The new fee was still lower than the $33 tip fee CRRA had estimated last spring.
> On Dec. 20, CSC unanimously approved applications from CRRA, MDC and CL&P for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need for the renovation of the generating plant in the South Meadows owned by CL&P, the reconstruction of a power block facility and the construction of a solid waste processing facility. The energy from the TTE facility will be sold to the now 31 towns belonging to the Mid-Connecticut Project.
> CRRA awarded the contract for the design and construction of the Mid-Connecticut Project TTE facility to CE.

On March 21, CRRA sold $310 million of tax-exempt bonds to finance construction of the Mid-Connecticut Project.
> Ground was officially broken for the project on May 10.

On June 7, HDR Techserv Inc. of Omaha, Neb., was awarded a $270,000 contract to design two transfer stations in Essex and Torrington.
> On Nov. 1, CRRA signed a contract with CL&P for the construction of the electric generating facility.

The two abandoned coal fueled steam generators constructed in the late 1940s at CL&P’s South Meadows Station were reactivated by CRRA and CL&P as a trash-to-energy facility with a total capacity of 64 MW of electricity.

CRRA admitted 11 new towns to the Mid-Connecticut project, bringing the total number of participating towns to 44.
> The Mid-Connecticut Project trash-to-energy facility completed acceptance testing on October 25. Owned by CRRA and NU, the operating responsibilities for the facility are divided. Resource Recovery Systems of Connecticut, Inc., a subsidiary of Ogden Projects, Inc., operates the power block, air quality control systems and electricity generation. MDC operates all transfer systems, the transfer stations, the waste processing facility and the system landfill.

New waste transfer stations commenced operation in Ellington and Watertown.

CRRA installed a computerized Continuous Emissions Monitoring System (CEM) at the Mid-Connecticut TTE plant, which monitors the combustion efficiency of the power block’s boilers and the effectiveness of the facility’s pollution control equipment to remove particulate matter from exhausted gases.
> CRRA expanded the tipping floor and the refuse-derived fuel storage area at the Mid-Connecticut Waste Processing Facility to provide a major environmental benefit by significantly reducing sulfur dioxide emissions. These expansions allowed the project to inventory larger amounts of waste and RDF that, in turn, displace the need for combusting coal. Combusting RDF rather than coal reduces sulfur dioxide emissions by 50 percent.

The CRRA board approved $1 million for a system to control nitrogen oxide (NOx) levels at the Mid-Connecticut Project TTE plant. The system was said to reduce emissions to below state mandated levels.

CRRA refinances outstanding Mid-Connecticut Project bonds totaling $210 million while retiring the remainder of $100 million.

State legislation restructuring the electric industry was passed. It required electric companies to sell off their generation assets, including assets CL&P owned at the Mid-Connecticut facility, and make good-faith efforts to buy down or buy out their purchased power contracts.

In February, claiming that MDC had overcharged it more than $1 million a year, the CRRA Board of Directors voted to (1) renegotiate its contract with MDC and (2) request new bids for the work MDC performed at the Mid-Connecticut Project. CRRA requested bids on three components of MDC's work: (1) transfer station and transportation, (2) landfill operation and management, and (3) operation of the waste processing facility. CRRA authorized contracts for those three components, with, respectively (a) Connecticut Waste Processing, (b) Botticello, Inc., and (c) Ogden Corp., (doing business in Connecticut as Resource Recovery Systems of Connecticut, Inc.). CRRA claimed that retaining those three companies would save more than $9 million a year.
> On March 10, MDC sought to mediate the dispute about whether the CRRA-MDC contract permitted CRRA to put MDC work out to bid. CRRA instead invoked the contract's arbitration provision. CRRA also informed MDC by letter that MDC owed CRRA "substantial monies due to the District's past billing practices." MDC contended that CRRA had accepted and approved the calculation of indirect costs for the contract's first 15 years, and had paid the amount charged.
> In September, the Department of Public Utility Control (DPUC) approved CRRA's acquisition of CL&P's generation assets at the Mid-Connecticut facility.

CL&P and a third party designated by CRRA, called Connecticut Steam Corporation, would enter into a power purchasing agreement in which the Corporation would purchase the steam produced at the Mid-Conn facility.
> Enron approached CRRA and CL&P and proposed several transactions involving the Mid-Connecticut facility. In December, CRRA, Enron, and CL&P entered into a series of contracts dealing with the facility itself and the steam and electricity it produces. These contracts covered a series of transactions, including CL&P's sale of its Mid-Connecticut assets to CRRA for $ 10 million, with CRRA assuming most of the liability for remediating contamination at the site; Enron's assumption of CL&P's obligation to buy the power produced at the facility, with CL&P making a $220 million lump sum payment to Enron for the above-market cost of the contract; a capacity payment of $ 2.2 million per month ($26.4 million per year) from Enron to CRRA for the bulk of the steam produced at the facility over the life of the contract; payment by CL&P to CRRA (by way of Enron) for the electricity produced at the facility at a substantially lower price than was charged under the original contract between CL&P and CRRA.
> On Dec. 22,CRRA signed an agreement for electric generation facility operation, management and maintenance services with Resource Recovery Systems of CT, now Covanta Mid-Conn. Inc.

In January, DPUC approved a request by CL&P and CRRA to modify its earlier decisions regarding the facility acquisition and the purchased power contract buydown. Among other things, the modified decision reduced CL&P's buydown payment to $ 282 million. It also approved Enron taking the place contemplated for Connecticut Steam Corporation.
> Enron, which had contracted to purchase power generated by the Mid-Connecticut Project, files for bankruptcy and stops making its $2.4-million monthly payments to CRRA.

> CRRA hires a new contractor to operate its Watertown transfer station, which will save $750,000 a year.
> A three-person panel chaired by William J. Cibes Jr., chancellor of the Connecticut State University system and former Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, issues a report that recommends that the Mid-Connecticut Project phase in disposal fee increases needed to cover the revenue lost in the Enron bankruptcy. To learn more, click Cibes Report on Disposal Fee Increases at Mid-Connecticut Project.
> The General Assembly passes a sweeping reform of CRRA. Gov. Rowland names Michael A. Pace, first selectman of Old Saybrook, to chair the new CRRA board. The legislation requires CRRA to submit a financial mitigation plan to the legislature and allows for CRRA to borrow up to $115 million from the state – a loan that must be repaid with interest. The legislation also designates the Attorney General to represent CRRA in all Enron-related litigation, including proceedings in bankruptcy court and lawsuits against those

> The CRRA board votes to enter mediation with MDC in an attempt to resolve their long-standing dispute.
> The CRRA board asks for an opinion from the Attorney General on the propriety of CRRA’s 1997 donation to help establish the Connecticut Geographic Education Fund.
> CRRA and its previous board and management, along with numerous other parties, are sued over the Enron loss by the towns of New Hartford and Barkhamsted.
> The CRRA board approves a study of the feasibility of expanding the Hartford landfill.

> CRRA ends mediation with MDC and hires a new contractor to run its Essex transfer station, which will save $424,000 a year.
> Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announces his opinion that CRRA’s donation for the establishment of the Connecticut Geographic Education Fund was improper; the National Geographic Society returns the donation in full.
> The CRRA board votes to end the Hartford landfill expansion study and focus on developing long-term ash and waste disposal solutions.
> The CRRA board votes to accept a proposed settlement of the Enron bankruptcy case. The settlement, which developed through the efforts of the Attorney General’s office, will be worth $82.7 million to CRRA.
> CRRA hires a new contractor to run its Ellington transfer station, which will save $590,000 a year.

> At its second Annual Meeting, CRRA announces it has received the proceeds of its Enron bankruptcy claim. After the claim was awarded, global financial houses expressed interest in purchasing the claim. The CRRA Board of Directors conducted an auction and sold the claim to Deutsche Bank Securities for $111.2 million.
> An arbitration panel rules that MDC has overcharged CRRA by more than $12.7 million since 1996 and orders MDC to lower the price it charges for operating the Mid-Connecticut Project waste processing facility and landfill. The panel orders about $5 million that had been escrowed from fees billed by MDC to be returned to CRRA.
> Mid-Connecticut Project towns can begin recycling junk mail and other mixed paper in October, and the project will get a new state-of-the-art recycling facility.

On March 8, CRRA and MDC reached an agreement for continued operation of Mid-Connecticut Project facilities.

DEP approves CRRA's revised closure plan for the Hartford landfill.
> Gov. M. Jodi Rell cuts a ribbon made from recycled paper to open CRRA's new Mid-Connecticut Project regional recycling facility. Mid-Connecticut Project residents can now recycle boxboard, oversized glass and metal containers and aerosol cans in addition to junk mail, mixed paper and other recyclables.
> A Superior Court judge orders CRRA to pay $35.8 million to Mid-Connecticut Project towns in New Hartford v. CRRA. CRRA votes to appeal, disagreeing with language in the judge's ruling that would hurt CRRA's efforts to recover all the funds lost in the Enron transaction.
> CRRA awards a contract to begin installation of the final cap over the Hartford landfill, more than a year before it is expected to receive its final delivery of waste.

> CRRA pays over $700,000 in rebates to towns for recycling, as another incentive for towns to strengthen their recycling programs.
> CRRA introduces single-stream recycling to Connecticut with the opening of its retrofitted processing facility.
> The final deliveries of non-processible waste and ash are brought to the Hartford landfill on Dec. 31, marking the end of its 68-year history as a disposal site.

> CRRA pays over $400,000 in rebates to towns for recycling, as another incentive for towns to strengthen their recycling programs.
> The Connecticut Supreme Court rejects CRRA's appeal of the Superior Court ruling in New Hartford v. CRRA.

> CRRA expands its menu of recyclables to include all plastic food and beverage containers, helping towns save more money by keeping more material out of the trash.
> CRRA awards a contract to NAES Corporation for the operation and maintenance of the Hartford trash-to-energy plant. NAES will succeed MDC in December 2011 and Covanta in May 2012. MDC sues CRRA, asking a judge to have the contract award thrown out.

> CRRA pays over $400,000 in rebates to towns for their recycling efforts in the year ended June 30, 2010, as Mid-Connecticut recycling towns again increase their recycling rate.
> After hearing 10 days of testimony, Superior Court Judge Julia J. Aurigemma throws out MDC's lawsuit against CRRA. In her 45-page ruling, Aurigemma wrote, “[t]he MDC, on the other hand, went through the motions of participating in the procurement process while at the same time attempting to legislate the CRRA out of existence . . . The (CRRA) towns and general public will be well served by the operation of the entire Mid-Conn Facility by NAES, the most qualified bidder, who also submitted the lowest price.”
> With existing Mid-Connecticut Project municipal service agrements set to expire on November 15, 2012, CRRA offers new MSAs to the 70 Mid-Connecticut cities and towns. The new contracts promise substantial savings over current pricing.
> In December, NAES Corporation takes over operation of the WPF, replacing MDC, which had operated the WPF since it began operation in 1988.

> In May, NAES Corporation becomes the sole operator of the Hartford trash-to-energy plant, taking over the PBF and EGF from Covanta Energy.
> For the year ended June 30, 2012, Mid-Connecticut recycling towns increased their recycling rate for the sixth straight year.
> In July, the WPF sets a record for efficiency just seven months after NAES Corporation took over its operation.
> On Nov. 15, CRRA retires the Mid-Connecticut Project bonds by making a final payment of $4,248,712.50. In 1985, CRRA had sold $310 million worth of bonds to finance the construction of the Mid-Connecticut trash-to-energy plant, then in 1996 CRRA retired $100 million of those bonds and refinanced the remaining $210 million. By retiring the bonds, CRRA also brings to an end the Mid-Connecticut Project, a solid-waste system that since it began official operation in 1988 had processed more than 17.6 million tons of garbage and used it to generate more than 10.1 million megawatt hours of electricity.
> On Nov. 16, the Connecticut Solid Waste System begins serving 50 cities and towns through contracts expiring as soon as June 30, 2015, and as far in the future as June 30, 2027.
to top


This CRRA.ORG page was last updated on November 16, 2012.
Copyright © 2004-2010 CRRA. All rights reserved. Credits