Rock-Tenn Public Meetings: September 6 and 15


Opportunities for citizen input on final recommendations for Rock-Tenn are coming up fast. The public comment period ends September 19 for written comments, with meetings held before then on Saturday, September 6 and Monda, September 15.

In addition to recommending biogas as the first choice for fuel, the Rock-Tenn Community Advisory Panel (RCAP) recommended a goal of zero waste for St. Paul, rejected any use of refused-derived fuel (RDF), and urged that the state change laws so that RDF cannot be classified as a renewable fuel. Copies of both the St. Paul Port Authority report (released August 25) and the RCAP summary and findings can be found at the RCAP Web site.

Comments and FAQs
All comments are welcome. All attendees will be given an opportunity to express their views with respect to this project and these recommendations. In the interest of time, comments should be limited to 3 minutes each. Written comments can be sent to or Attn: Energy Recommendations, SPPA, Suite 1900, 345 St. Peter St., Saint Paul, MN 55102. Written comments will be accepted through September 19th. More information on the recommendations and other Port Authority findings can be at Copies will be made available for review at the St. Anthony Park and Merriam Park libraries and select District Council offices. Meeting materials, research, and technical memos are also available online.

Saturday, September 6, 10:00 am

Monday, September 15, 6:30 pm

Wilder Center, 451 Lexington Pkwy N.

Sponsored by the Saint Paul Port Authority, St. Anthony Park Community Council (D12), Hamline-Midway Coalition (D11), Union Park District Council (D13) and Macalester-Groveland Community Council (D14).

For more information contact: or 612-788-4151 Or visit

Rock-Tenn Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I keep hearing about Rock-Tenn?
• Rock-Tenn is Minnesota’s largest paper recycling plant. Last fall, the company lost its energy source when Xcel Energy closed its High Bridge coal plant and Rock-Tenn began burning fuel oil and natural gas on-site.

What has been done to address this energy challenge?
• The Minnesota State Legislature allocated $4 million to study renewable energy options for Rock-Tenn. The Saint Paul Port Authority was assigned by the Legislature to manage the study. The Saint Paul Port Authority convened the Rock-Tenn Community Advisory Panel (RCAP) to advise on the study..

What options have been considered?
• Wet Biomass (Agricultural or Food Processing Byproducts, Animal waste), Dry Biomass (Forestry & Agriculture Residues, Energy Crops), Refuse Derived Fuel
• Energy technologies that produce either electricity (solar and wind) or steam (traditional combustion, gasification and anaerobic digestion).

What is the recommended solution?
• The preferred option, by the Port Authority and RCAP, is the production of renewable biogas through anaerobic digestion in Greater Minnesota to offset the Rock-Tenn use of natural gas.
• Anaerobic digestion uses micro-organisms to break down organic matter to create methane and carbon dioxide. This biogas can be cleaned and added to the natural gas system.

What are the alternatives?
• Alternative #1 utilizes the generation of renewable biogas from anaerobic digestion and builds a new gas turbine at Rock-Tenn. This turbine will generate steam for Rock-Tenn operations and electricity sold wholesale to a utility.
• Alternative #2 utilizes willow, perennial grasses and forest residue in a gasification facility to be built at Rock-Tenn. Gasification uses heat to change the composition of solid fuel into a synthetic gas, which can be combusted to produce electricity and steam.

The executive summary of the St. Paul Port authority report recommends: “re-powering Rock-Tenn with discount-priced natural gas, utilizing carbon offsets from renewable biogas. The biogas would be produced at an anaerobic digestion facility to be built in out state Minnesota. The anaerobic digestion facility required would be the largest of its kind in the US.”

In addition, the Port Authority notes that:

Based upon other work this past year, Rock-Tenn will have decreased its peak energy demand by approximately 23 percent. In addition, the prospect of utilizing waste heat from Rock-Tenn’s manufacturing process to supply heat to a major user or potentially more than 300 commercial and industrial buildings along the Central Corridor could offer significant financial and environmental benefits to the businesses and neighborhoods of Saint Paul.

In regard to the use of RDF, RCAP says:

4. RCAP recommends that Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) combustion be removed from future consideration as a fuel source for Rock-Tenn.

5. Minnesota statutes treat RDF as a renewable energy source, and RDF is accordingly an eligible fuel for the proposed power plant. As a practical matter, the RCAP does not view RDF as renewable. A large fraction of the energy available from the thermal conversion of this material comes from plastic, which is currently derived almost completely from fossil fuels.

Two “additional findings” give strong support for zero waste and for renewable energy:

1. RCAP supports implementation of comprehensive zero waste strategies for the city of Saint Paul.

2. RCAP endorses solar, wind and metropolitan area biogas production because of the environmental and health benefits they provide. We recommend they be included as strategies in meeting Rock-Tenn’s overall energy needs if doing so can add value to the economics of the current or future facility.