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Storm debris chews up shredder

Red Wing City Council voted unanimously to authorize the purchase of a new shredder to fulfil a refuse-derived fuel contract with Xcel Energy at a meeting Monday, just days after the city's existing wood shredder went kaput.

Public Works Director Rick Moskwa told council members that a new shredder with extended warranty -- with a total cost of $498,000 after trading in the city's now defunct shredder -- would be more fiscally responsible than purchasing a cheaper, used shredder.

"A used machine is approximately 800 hours of running time, which would be about a one-year time frame the way we operate right now," Moskwa told the council. "But when we go to shredding for the Xcel contract, we'll be putting significantly more hours on that machine."

He added: "This type of equipment is very expensive to repair, and we feel that it would be in the best interest of the city to ensure our costs for the first two years within the offered warranty (for the new shredder)."

Funding for the shredder would come largely from savings in operating costs by shuttering the city's incinerator, which could be as much as $700,000 over a one-year span, Moskwa said.

City Council previously approved a plan to impose an extended outage at the incinerator starting July 1 to focus on the contract to shred waste for Xcel, while also directing Public Works to look into acquiring an interim shredder that could grind waste small enough to satisfy Xcel's requirements.

Xcel would burn the waste, known as refused-derived fuel, at its Red wing steam plant off Highway 61/63.

Moskwa said the plan was to use the interim shredder until the city could receive a Renewable Development Fund grant from Xcel to purchase a more permanent, two-stage shredding solution.

The interim shredder would later serve as a backup waste shredder, as well as replace the city's current wood shredder, which died Friday after more than a week of heavy use grinding branches brought down by the storm May 2.

Because the cost of the new shredder included the trade-in value of the now broken shredder, Moskwa said it would need to be repaired at a cost of around $30,000.

The city expects to know in early October whether it will receive the grant from Xcel to purchase a permanent solution for its shredding contract, meaning the interim shredder would have to be used until July 2014 at the earliest, Moskwa said.

"My concern is that the permanent solution won't be ready in exactly one year and may go beyond that," council member Ralph Rauterkus said. "So I would prefer to go with the new shredder giving us the option to go past that one year."