Astoria Station is part of our company’s plan to reliably, economically, and environmentally responsibly meet our customers’ energy needs, replace expiring capacity purchase agreements, and prepare for the 2021 retirement of the 1950s-era 140-megawatt (MW) coal-fired Hoot Lake Plant in Fergus Falls, Minnesota.
Astoria Station will be a simple-cycle natural gas combustion turbine in Deuel County, South Dakota, with 245 MW of capacity and will provide energy during periods of high demand. The station will complement our wind generation by providing a reliable backstop when the wind isn’t blowing and will have flexible operating options and low CO2 emissions. Astoria Station paired with the Merricourt project is a great example of our commitment to providing an optimal mix of energy resources. We'll invest approximately $165 million in the project.
Regional economic benefits
Astoria Station will pay property tax totaling approximately $3 million within the first five years of operation, then approximately $1 million each subsequent year.
During the 13-month construction period, we estimate that the project will create an average of 50 construction jobs, with a peak of 70 during the height of construction. This will equate to approximately $30 million in construction labor costs. And, when complete, the station will require two to three full-time employees to operate it.
Infrastructure improvements needed for the station, such as the new electrical substation, could lead to additional commercial and industrial development in the area.
Natural gas enables renewable energy
By 2021 we project that approximately 30 percent of the energy our customers use will come from renewables. But, because the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow, we need safe, reliable, and affordable dispatchable generation fuel sources—such as natural gas. Astoria Station will allow us to keep the lights on when we’re unable to harness the sun or wind to generate energy.
On August 28, 2017, we held a voluntary public open house in Astoria, South Dakota.
On November 27, 2017, the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission held a public input hearing in Toronto, South Dakota.
On May 10, 2019, Otter Tail Power Company distributed a local news release announcing the start of construction activity.