The Great River Energy board of directors approved pursuing the sale of the Elk River Resource Recovery Project, which is located approximately 30 miles northwest of Minneapolis. If a sales agreement cannot be reached, the facilities will be closed by March 15, 2019. Operation of the Elk River project avoids the landfilling of 260,000‐300,000 tons of metro waste and recycles approximately 200 million aluminum cans and 24 million pounds of steel per year.
The Elk River project is no longer financially sustainable due to current low prices in the regional energy market and the inability to procure sufficient municipal waste to operate the project at full capacity. However, the project remains an important and cost-effective waste management tool for metro area communities. Great River Energy leaders are working diligently with county officials to obtain a commitment to purchase the project. On a parallel path, preparations to retire the project will begin immediately.
“The Elk River Resource Recovery Project has provided dependable electricity to Great River Energy’s member-owner cooperatives for decades,” said David Saggau, Great River Energy president and CEO. “The plant’s long, successful record has been possible thanks to a talented staff and supportive community.”
The Elk River Resource Recovery Project consists of the Elk River Resource Processing Plant, which processes municipal solid waste into fuel; the Elk River Energy Recovery Station, a 30-megawatt waste-to-energy power plant; and the Becker Ash Landfill. Great River Energy has operated Elk River Energy Recovery Station as a waste-to-energy plant since 1989 and purchased the landfill and processing plant in 2010. Currently, 85 employees work at the facilities.
“The Elk River Resource Recovery Project is better suited as a waste management facility than as a power plant,” said Rick Lancaster, Great River Energy vice president and chief generation officer. “The project is no longer a competitively priced renewable energy resource.”
This decision will not impact Great River Energy’s other operations in Elk River where another 135 employees work at a peaking power plant and an office/warehouse/garage complex in operations, transmission, power generation, telecommunications and other fields.