June 01, 2021

Hoot Lake Plant retires

Leaves legacy of safe, reliable generation

On May 27, 2021, we retired Hoot Lake Plant, marking the end of 100 years of coal-fired energy generation at the site.

The plant, a 140-megawatt (MW) coal-fired generating facility in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, played a vital role in our company’s history of generating safe, reliable, affordable energy.

Hoot Lake Plant’s legacy
We started generating electricity for customers at Dayton Hollow Dam on the Otter Tail River in 1909 and finished construction on the Hoot Lake hydroelectric plant in 1914.

As our number of customers grew, we increased generating capacity, building 1,500-kilowatt steam generating units at the Hoot Lake site in 1921 and 1923. In 1948 we replaced those with Unit 1, which retired in 2006. We commissioned Hoot Lake Plant’s current coal-fired operational units (Units 2 and 3) in 1959 and 1964, greatly increasing the plant’s generation capacity from 5 MW to 145 MW.

Hoot Lake Plant in 1971.

Hoot Lake Plant in 1971.

“Throughout its 100-year history, Hoot Lake Plant has generated more than electricity for our customers, company, and communities—it’s been a place where our employees worked to safely provide an essential service, especially during times when it was most needed, as well as a place where careers, relationships, and memories began and grew,” said President Tim Rogelstad. “The plant is just one example of how our company has risen to meet the needs of our many stakeholders, but it’s the people and spirit of OTP that truly made it possible. And that legacy of people and perseverance will remain.”

Retiring the coal-fired facility
While COVID-19 and other safety precautions prevent in-person tours of the plant, we invite the public onsite virtually through a 360-degree tour at otpco.com/HootLakePlant. We're also planning for a retirement commemoration in July.

We expect deconstruction to take 18 to 24 months, depending on weather and similar unknowns. Hydropower production will continue at the site, and we'll continue to use an office building and two storage buildings. After deconstructing the coal-fired facility, the plant’s former site will remain an open field in the short-term. Safety and security of both residents and our property remain top priority.

The recently completed Merricourt Wind Energy Center and Astoria Station are part of our plan to continue to meet customers’ energy needs both now and into the future.

“Whether you worked at, visited, or simply supported Hoot Lake Plant’s operations, I want to say thank you for your contributions to its legacy,” said Rogelstad.

Additional photos

Photo 1: Hoot Lake Plant in 1971.
Photo 2: Hoot Lake Plant today.