That’s the HERC garbage burner, known to some as the “Hennepin Energy Recovery Center.” It’s right next to the new baseball field, so I made a “HERC Hanky” as schnozz cover in the stands.

Xcel now wants to revise the HERC Power Purchase Agreement and lower the price it pays HERC for electricity.


Hmmmmm, changing the rules in the middle of the game. Burning garbage has never been an economically winning proposition. Cut the rate?  What will that mean for Hennepin County?  As of a few minutes ago, the Public Utilities Commission announced a comment period on this change:


Comments?  About what?

Initial Comments are due by 4:30 p.m. on September 11, 2017.  eFiling is preferred.  To eFile comments, go HERE TO REGISTER.  It’s simple and fast.  When you file, file under docket number 17 – 532 (that’s 17 for “year” and 532 for “docket number”)

Note the Commission asks, “Are there other project-related issues or concerns?”  Well, what’s wrong with HERC and burning?  For a long time this has been an issue for Neighbors Organizing for Change, Neighbors Against the Burner, Minneapolis Neighbors for Clean Air (wayback version), and the Sierra Club and the push to increase tonnage burned was successfully brought to a screeching halt by these groups and the folks of Minneapolis!   You can find some general information at Alan Muller’s site.  Alan reports that the HERC air permit expired something like 8 years ago, not uncommon.  Most Minnesota air permits are expired and the MPCA isn’t doing much about it.

Some specifics on the tonnage burning increase request that was foiled:

Muller – Comment – Spreadsheet of Pollutants

Comment-Eureka Recycling, Institute for Local Self Reliance, Linden Hills Power & Light, Women’s Environmental Initiative, Will Steger Foundation

Remember this?  “The Burning Question” way back in 2013? Let’s get real, burning garbage isn’t a question!!!

Tuesday 9/17 – Dr. Paul Connett at Mayflower Church

Who is paying attention to this now?

What do the Benson turkey shit burning plant, the HERC garbage burner, and a couple other plants have in common?  The have Power Purchase Agreements that Xcel wants to get out of or modify in its favor.  Funny how that works.  These things were bad from the get to, make no economic sense except to those selling what little power is generated.  Now, it appears that Xcel Energy (and therefore us, Xcel’s customers), is tired of being screwed and are not going to take it anymore!

What’s Xcel Energy’s view of these Petitions?  To save money, of course, and it looks to be about $53.1 million annually.

These Petitions were filed just now by Xcel Energy:


With a $20 million kicker to the City of Benson, here’s what Xcel Energy plans to do, including demolition of the plant:

Next up?  The Hennepin Energy Recovery Center (HERC) garbage burner:


The plan for HERC?  Cut the PPA amount, by how much, we don’t know, it’s all “PROTECTED DATA” and top secret:

What does that mean for Hennepin County?  The HERC garbage burner has never been a money maker, and has always been a money loser.  So now what?  Does it make any sense to keep it open, or is it time to shut it down?  Allow me to rephrase… is there any reason to keep it open?  Seems like this is a convenient time to close it.  Neighbors Against The Burner, are you listening?

Next up?  Pine Bend, another “waste-to-energy” garbage burner, and another PPA that Xcel Energy wants to terminate:


And about the Sherco site and moving part of Northern Metals operation to the Sherco site, and that’s not all they want to do:


The point of this Sherco Petition?

And last but not least, a sale of assets to Flint Hills:




HERC Burner info on KFAI

February 27th, 2012

Today at 9:00 a.m. , Alan Muller is going to be on Andy Driscoll’s Truth to Tell on KFAI, together with Rep. Frank Hornstein, Rep. Karen Clark, and Lara Norkus-Crampton, RN.

Listen here:

Listen Now


For more information generally, see Neighbors Against the Burner, and look for HERC.

Here’s from Andy’s Truth To Tell site:

Should Hennepin County garbage burner operator Covanta Energy be allowed to increase its burning volume by almost 20%?

State  and city permits currently allow Hennepin County and Covanta to incinerate 1,000 tons of Minneapolis and near-ring suburban garbage at the HERC (Hennepin Energy Resource Center) facility in the heart of downtown (in Target Field’s backyard, so to speak). Covanta and the county want to up that by 212 tons per day, the maximum the plant could handle.

Here’s what Hennepin County’s HERC page proclaims (boldface ours):

About 365,000 tons of garbage (1,000 per day) is burned at HERC to provide enough electricity for 25,000 homes each year. Electricity generated at HERC is sold to Xcel Energy. (Covanta labels the 33.7 megawatts they sell to Xcel Energy as “renewable”.)

Through the steam line, HERC provides enough steam for the annual natural gas needs of 1,500 homes to buildings in downtown Minneapolis and Target Field.

Residents and businesses in Hennepin County generate 1 million tons of garbage every year. Processing waste at HERC is an environmentally preferable alternative to landfilling waste.

More than 11,000 tons of ferrous metal are recovered every year at HERC and recycled.

Processing one ton of waste at HERC prevents the release of one ton of greenhouse gas emissions. Since HERC opened in 1990, processing waste has prevented the release of 3 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Is burning garbage really the best way to a) manage our waste without landfilling it? and/or b) generate electricity or other forms of energy? Whatever happened to the recycling, composting and reducing waste targets developed years ago now? Is this WTE – waste-to-energy – system the healthiest alternative?

Burned materials of all kinds pour pollutants into the air we breathe – and choke on, creating unprecedented percentages of respiratory problems in children and adults, especially adults with chronic health problems.

Lead, cadmium and other heavy metals are released into the air over Minneapolis and blow in different directions at different times of the year, settling in the systems of residents all around the Twin Cities. Remember, this is added to other burning and pollutants from other sources, including energy and manufacturing companies dotting the Metro.

Even with all the money generated for Hennepin County by this burning operation, can the health protection mandate of the county and the state justify such data as an 11.4% rate of children’s asthma in Minneapolis or 9.2% county-wide?

Two years ago, the Minneapolis Planning Commission bucked its own staff’s recommendation and turned down Covanta’s and Hennepin’s request for changing the city’s conditional use permit to allow for the increased burning. Covanta started to appeal that decision to the City Council, but could see the media coverage and count the votes on the City Council Zoning and Planning Committee and pulled it back to consult with the Pollution Control Agency about modifying THAT permit to burn.

Their appeal was coming up again in Minneapolis this month – now they’ve asked for another extension for that – to October. Anti-burning advocates and other environmentalists are pressing hard to keep any more garbage from being burnt there, insisting that all burning, not just the increase, is killing people. (Watch an interview between guests Lara Norkus-Crampton and Rep. Frank Hornstein.)


HERC at it again

January 9th, 2011


And for some “big picture” emissions info, here’s the latest Toxic Release Inventory from the EPA:

TRI – 2010 in sortable Excel

Hennepin County and the MPCA have released their “Environmental Assessment Worksheet” for the HERC burner, together with supporting documents.   Check ’em out:

HERC Environmental Assessment Worksheet

Covanta HHRA Report


As you read through them, note the dates… some of it goes back to 2009, some 2008 and some 2006!

There will be a public comment period and a public meeting following publication in the EQB Monitor.  Here’s the EQB Monitor site to check, it’s not there  yet…

EQB Monitor site

For more info, keep an eye on the Neighbors Against the Burner site.


On Monday, the Minneapolis Planning Commission had another hearing and deliberated the HERC garbage burner expansion.  The discussion of the Planning Commission was enlightening — here it is (it’s big, patience), just go here and click “download” and in time, it’ll be there:

Planning Commission deliberation on HERC

After which, of course, they voted it DOWN.  Denied.  No permit.

Thanks to the Planning Commission for taking a close look at this project!