May 22, 2017

Otter Tail Power Company balances economic, community, and environmental commitments while navigating multi-year hydro relicensing process

Company to hold second voluntary open house in June

Hoot Lake Hydroelectric Plant in Fergus Falls, Minnesota

Otter Tail Power Company began the five-year process to relicense its five hydroelectric plants along the Otter Tail River in 2016. For more than a century the Fergus Falls community has grown and thrived alongside the plants. Dayton Hollow (1909), Hoot Lake (1914), Pisgah (1918), Wright/Central (1922), and Taplin Gorge/Friberg (1925) are valued for their longevity, reliability, and ability to create electricity from water, which is a renewable resource. The company has proposed to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to relicense the plants as they are today because relicensing is more cost effective for Otter Tail Power Company’s customers than other options—and because doing so would maintain reservoirs near where customers and community members have built their homes. “Fergus Falls is our headquarters community,” said Cris Oehler, Vice President, Public Relations. “It’s with that hometown knowledge and understanding of the people we serve that we’re navigating this relicensing process. We’re balancing our community, economic, and environmental commitments in our own backyard.”

Your involvement is important
Otter Tail Power Company continues to encourage people who are interested in this project to engage in the relicensing process. To date, FERC has received comments from property owners, state and federal agencies, and others who use the river recreationally. “Recently we’ve seen a wide range of comments submitted to FERC, but two distinct interests are particularly clear,” said Oehler. “A handful of organizations do not support relicensing the plants as they are today and have proposed costly alternatives such as fish passage installation or dam removal. Property owners, many of whom we serve, tend to support the relicensing, likely because removing the dams could decrease property values and increase the cost of electric service.” Depending on FERC’s decision, which is based in part on the comments and recommendations that people and organizations submit into the FERC record, the company may modify its proposal to protect customers from more costly alternatives.

“Essentially, if FERC’s relicensing conditions are too expensive, one or more of our hydroelectric plants are at risk of removal. That’s why it’s critical for those who have an interest in the outcome of this process to remain engaged.” -- Cris Oehler, Vice President, Public Relations

Attend the company’s second voluntary open house to learn more
As follow-up to Otter Tail Power Company’s first voluntary open house in April 2016, the company will hold a second open house at the Bigwood Event Center on Monday, June 5, from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The company will highlight the hydroelectric plant locations, the FERC relicensing process, the recently released Study Plan, and key opportunities for you to be part of the process. “If you’re concerned about fish migration, sturgeon, recreational activities, or safety, we encourage you to attend our open house and talk to us,” said Oehler. “And if you’re concerned about the bodies of water that our hydroelectric plants allow for homes and recreation, or any other at-risk benefits of these plants, please join us. For more than a century, we’ve used the river as a renewable resource to provide our customers with reliable and affordable energy while keeping the environment and safety at the forefront of our operation. We want that to continue.”

Otter Tail Power Company will post the open house materials at after the event. The company is making every effort to mail open house invitations to property owners along any reservoirs that may be affected.

“Our customers throughout our service area trust us to do the right thing,” said Oehler. “We take that seriously. The outcomes of this process will have a local impact on our friends and neighbors and a regional impact on all our customers. If you aren’t already, please get involved soon. Your input into this federal process impacts our ability to proceed with the relicensing as we’ve proposed.”

You may submit comments to FERC at any time
If you’re interested in staying up to date on the relicensing process, subscribe to FERC’s eSubscription service to receive notifications when new documents are filed into the relicensing record. (Docket number P-10853)


If you’re interested in submitting comments to FERC, use the information below. Be sure to include the docket number P-10853 in your comments.


Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary
Nathaniel J. Davis, Sr., Deputy Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20426

FERC will consider the value of the energy, recreational benefits, potential environmental impacts, and many other issues in its decision.