The Red Wing Garbage Grinder

Garbage Incineration is NOT Renewable Energy Development


**UPDATE** March 2016

The Public Utilities Commission has chosen not to hear further requests for reconsideration since they were due in 2014. But sharing the this story is a useful as a way of exposing this network deal-making between public officials and the garbage incineration industry, such as Washington and Ramsey counties' recent purchase of a privately-owned garbage grinding facility in Newport, Minnesota. 

THE ISSUE: January 2016

Xcel has chosen to use ratepayer-bankrolled Renewable Development Fund money to redevelop a City of Red Wing garbage processing facility--all in order to supply 20,000 tons of trash per year to an Xcel-owned garbage incinerator in Red Wing.


This decision is troubling for several key reasons:


  • Garbage Incineration is Classified as "Renewable" Energy by state statute:

    • The PUC signed off on the use of ratepayer dollars for renewable energy to fund an incineration project.

    • The Renewable Development Fund originated in 1994 as a fund requiring Xcel to direct money to renewable projects as an "offset" for being able to store nuclear waste at Prairie Island.

  • Xcel's Steering of Independent Funds toward its Own Financial Gains:

    • The letter from the City of Red Wing to the Public Utilities Commission cited the "Lower Operational Cost for Xcel Energy" as one of 6 key reasons to fund the project.  

    • Xcel bumped the garbage burner retrofit to a higher priority than other projects that were scored higher on the Renewable Development Fund objective scoring system.  

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