This paper focuses on significant changes in the overall economics of waste-to-energy (WTE) during the last 30 years. The WTE industry in this country has seen several different business cycles occur since 1975, as different market drivers have caused the industry to rise and fall. This paper compares: (1) those economic factors that were in play in 1975, when the first WTE facility in the United States was built, and the industry was in its infancy; (2) the factors at play when the WTE industry was at its height in 1990; and (3) some of the factors that caused the industry’s steep downward trend since 1994, when the last greenfield WTE facility in the United States was built. The paper will identify changes that have occurred with regard to the pricing of electricity and the ability of public sectors to charge non-market-based tipping fees. The paper discusses the drivers of 2006 and focuses on completed economic factors to be considered when comparing WTE with other waste disposal means. The paper discusses the drivers of 2006 and whether the industry is finally poised to begin an upward turn in the cycle. The paper focuses on the impact of the cost of diesel fuel oil on the overall economics of long-haul transfer, and how that is likely to impact the future development of WTE facilities. The paper also presents a case study of a recent analysis that was undertaken for two counties that were evaluating the financial viability of WTE as compared to other disposal options.

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