Our first large-scale investment in solar generation is fully operational. Located in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, the 49-megawatt (MW) Hoot Lake Solar’s nearly 130,000 solar panels will produce enough energy to power approximately 9,000 homes annually.
We began construction on the $62 million project in May 2022. Hoot Lake Solar started producing electricity in early 2023, and on August 8 it became part of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) energy market, allowing MISO to economically dispatch the site. With proximity to an existing transmission interconnection from the retired Hoot Lake Plant, Hoot Lake Solar adds renewable energy to the grid without significant investment in additional transmission infrastructure.
“While Merricourt Wind Energy Center [North Dakota] and Astoria Station [South Dakota] replaced the generating capacity from the now-retired Hoot Lake Plant, Hoot Lake Solar is an additional cost-effective renewable resource,” said President Tim Rogelstad. “Thank you to everyone involved. The supportive partnerships with the City of Fergus Falls and Otter Tail County helped us build a resource that benefits our communities. From government agencies and neighbors, to employees and contractors, we couldn’t have done it without you.”
Bringing community benefits
The 16-month construction process brought approximately 65 workers to the site during peak construction. We expect Hoot Lake Solar to provide more than $120,000 annually in local tax benefit.
“Our relationship with Otter Tail Power has been essential to the history of our community,” said Fergus Falls Mayor Ben Schierer. “Their investments over more than 110 years have been critical to the success of Fergus Falls. This historic addition of clean energy demonstrates their continued vision for generations to come.”
We'll provide public informational tours beginning spring 2024.
Powering the future
We've powered our communities for more than a century. “Hoot Lake Solar is one of many generation resources that allow us to continue providing reliable, affordable electricity to our customers,” said Rogelstad. “With the completion of Hoot Lake Solar, we project nearly 40% of our owned and contracted energy generation will come from renewable resources.” We've reduced carbon emissions from owned generation resources by approximately 43% from 2005 levels. We're targeting a 50% carbon reduction from 2005 levels by 2025 and a 97% reduction by 2050.
Hoot Lake Solar is Minnesota’s third-largest operating solar site based on generation capacity. We also have two nearly 40-kilowatt solar projects: Blue Jay Solar in Jamestown, North Dakota, and Blue Heron Solar near Ottertail, Minnesota. For more information on our energy generation resources, visit otpco.com/EnergyFuture.
In January 2023 the Minnesota Erosion Control Association awarded Otter Tail Power’s 49-MW Hoot Lake Solar its Environmental Excellence award. The site also includes pollinator-friendly and native habitats for wildlife cover, food, and nesting areas.