Funds requested for waste-to-energy project


Hutchinson would become the home of a high-tech power plant that can turn garbage, wood chips and just about anything else into clean electricity, under a bill sponsored by Rep. Paul Thissen (DFL-Mpls).

HF167 would authorize $2.5 million in state bonds for a demonstration facility that would use plasma arc technology to turn a variety of waste materials into energy. The project, a joint public-private venture between the Hutchinson Utilities Commission and Minnesota-based Phoenix Solutions Company, would require another $2.5 million from local and private sources.

J. Leonard Frame, Phoenix’s founder and chairman, said the facility would use plasma arc equipment that converts renewable and/or nonrenewable waste materials into energy by subjecting them to heat of 1,000 degrees Celsius and producing synthetic natural gas.

“We are ready to drive forward the minute that state money is made available,” Frame said.

The House Energy Finance and Policy Division held a hearing on the bill but took no action. Division Chairman Bill Hilty (DFL-Finlayson) said the division would discuss the bill further at its Feb. 18 meeting.

A companion bill, SF171, sponsored by Sen. Dan Larson (DFL-Bloomington) awaits action by the Senate Business, Industry and Jobs Committee.