1976: Construction begins on Recycle Energy System plant. City issues $46 million in bonds for project.
1979: Plant opens; operated by Teledyne National.
1980: Frequent shutdowns because of design problems and equipment breakdowns.
1981: With the city on verge of defaulting on the bonds, state provides about $16 million, including $11 million to redesign the plant. City borrows another $8.6 million for operations and bond payments. Tricil Resources Inc. receives $19 million, 10-year contract to operate plant.
1984: Federal and state governments provide another $36 million to save city from default. On Dec. 20, explosion kills three workers. Cause traced to shipment from New Jersey of sawdust mixed with oil and paint.
1985: City buys out Tricil contract for $2.4 million; hires wTe Corp. to serve as financial and technical consultant. Over next 11 years, city uses $17.7 million from the general fund to cover operating losses.
1993: Beacon Journal study shows the plant emits large amounts of heavy metals, making it one of the biggest polluters in Ohio.
1994: Explosion closes the plant for several days. A scam to avoid paying fees results in arrests of a dozen employees and haulers.
1995: City stops burning trash rather than spend $30 million to meet federal clean-air requirements. City contracts with Thermal Ventures of Youngstown to operate plant and burn primarily wood chips and coal. Company loses up to $3.3 million a year because of three-year rate freeze.
2004: Thermal Ventures II buys Akron Thermal from Thermal Ventures.
2005: With Thermal’s debts mounting, Akron hires firm to review company’s ownership structure and finances. Thermal owes creditors (Akron, Summit County, Ohio and FirstEnergy Corp.) about $13 million.
2007: Akron Thermal files for bankruptcy. Creditors owed $20 million.
2008: Voters reject a ballot issue to allow Akron to lease its sewers to fund scholarships and approve an issue requiring voter approval to lease, sell or transfer any city-owned utility.
2009: Akron Thermal ceases operations and turns plant back over to Akron. City contracts with Akron Energy Systems LLC to run the plant. University of Akron drops off the system, using its own boilers.
2010: Voters reject a charter amendment that would allow the city to lease or sell the steam system.
2013: City proposes donating steam plant to Akron Children’s Hospital and puts an issue on the Nov. 5 ballot.
— Source: Beacon Journal archives