Ongoing cold temperatures in our region and throughout the nation are causing high demand for electricity. Some electric utility customers are experiencing rolling outages as a result. Otter Tail Power Company, serving approximately 70,000 square miles in parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota, is still producing and delivering energy to its more than 130,000 customers.
Otter Tail Power Company’s Astoria Station project is in full swing in Deuel County, South Dakota, where you’ll find approximately 250 people working on site. While the company and contractors are working to ensure everyone is following safety protocols and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic, thirteen people working on the Astoria Station project recently tested positive for COVID-19.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has issued a Stay-at-home Order effective March 27 at midnight through April 10 to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The company takes seriously its role as a critical service provider. “Rest assured your Otter Tail Power Company team remains hard at work,” said President Tim Rogelstad. “We value the privilege we have in providing you with safe, reliable electric service always—and certainly through difficult times like these.”
Otter Tail Power Company's new sustainability website, otpsustainability.com, is live. This interactive and mobile-friendly site is a one-stop shop for the whats, whens, and whys driving the company’s sustainability. It supplements its customer-focused website, otpco.com.
We project that by 2022 our customers will receive 30 percent of their energy from renewable resources and our carbon emissions will be at least 30 percent below 2005 levels—all while keeping rates nearly 30 percent below the national average,” said Rogelstad. “The Merricourt Wind Energy Center and Astoria Station are catalysts of these 30 percent trajectories.”
Since 1909 Otter Tail Power Company has touched the lives of customers by providing reliable electricity and energy services. The company served its first customer—Northern Light Electric Company of Wahpeton, North Dakota—in April 1909. It now provides electricity to more than 132,500 customers in 422 communities.
"The team completed construction on time, under budget, and with a stellar safety record," said Project Manager Al Koeckeritz from Otter Tail Power Company. “I’d like to extend a special thanks to communities and residents throughout the project area. Your partnership has brought us to the finish line. Thank you.”
Otter Tail Power Company is mindful of the hardship posed for the many people without electricity and is sending crews to assist with power restoration efforts. At 6 a.m. on Wednesday morning 22 of our linemen, service representatives, and mechanics left in a convoy for Tampa, Florida, taking three digger derricks, 11 bucket trucks, a mechanic repair truck, and one pickup. The team travelled throughout the day and remained in close contact with local crews and mutual aid personnel. By the end of the day lead utilities on the scene asked us to stand down, which is common in these situations.
The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) presented Otter Tail Power Company with the association’s Emergency Recovery Award for its outstanding restoration efforts after a snow and ice storm hit South Dakota on Christmas Day.
Today the Big Stone South-Ellendale (BSSE) 345-kV Transmission Line project began using helicopters to assist in stringing conductor (transmission line) nine miles west of Big Stone City. The helicopters will work their way west toward Aberdeen, South Dakota, then northwest toward Ellendale, North Dakota. The project team expects to complete stringing in October 2018.
“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,” said Otter Tail Power Company President Tim Rogelstad.
Today the 163-mile Big Stone South-Ellendale (BSSE) 345-kilovolt transmission line project kicked off construction during an event in Webster, South Dakota. When complete, the line will connect the new Big Stone South Substation near Big Stone City, South Dakota, to the new Ellendale Substation near Ellendale, North Dakota. “This transmission resource is a major supplement to the existing grid in northeastern South Dakota, providing critical reliability improvements through capacity and geographic diversity,” said South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Chairman Chris Nelson.
The three-year $384 million project helps plant owners balance their commitments to environmental stewardship with cost-effective service for their customers by enabling them to responsibly generate base-load electricity from coal at Big Stone Plant. The new system reduces nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide emissions by approximately 90 percent and mercury emissions by approximately 80 percent.
On June 1 we filed our 2017-2031 Resource Plan with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. By June 15 we'll file the plan with the North Dakota Public Service Commission and South Dakota Public Utilities Commission. “Our resource plan identifies the most cost-effective combination of resources for meeting our customers’ needs for reliable service during the next 15 years,” said Brian Draxten, manager, resource planning, Otter Tail Power Company. “We selected our proposed plan based on reliability, affordability, achievability, and environmental responsibility. We believe this plan is a win-win for our customers and the environment.”