Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) -The Olmsted County Waste-to-Energy Facility in Rochester is celebrating its 30th birthday this weekend.

The main event will be an open house with tours of the facility at 301 Silver Creek Road Northeast on Saturday from 1 until 4 p.m. The public is also invited to bring in confidential papers for shredding. Each visitor will be able to have up to 5 boxes of papers shredded for free at the site during the open house.

The waste-to-energy facility opened in 1987 with two burners for incinerating garbage, which is used to produce steam used to produce electricity, and to heat and cool the near Rochester Community and Technical College, the Federal Medical Center, Olmsted Community Hospital, County Human Services Campus, along with the Government Center and Mayo Civic Center in downtown Rochester.

A third burner was added to the facility in 2011, which double the capacity from 200 tons to a maximum of 400 tons of waste per day. The facility has three steam turbines capable of a maximum of 5.5 megawatts of electricity per hour, which is used by the buildings connected to the steam heating and cooling system. Any excess power is sold on the local power grid.

When it was built in the 1980’s, the OWEF carried a price tag of $22 million. A major upgrade to the facility’s emissions control systems in 2003 cost $11 million, and the 2011 expansion of the plant that added the third burner added another $100 million in capital costs. The funding to pay off the bonds sold by Olmsted County for those projects is derived from the fees paid waste haulers to bring the garbage they collect to the facility for disposal, along with the revenues generated by the sale of steam and electricity.

(Source: Olmsted County Public Works)

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