On January 3, 2023, we closed on the purchase of Ashtabula III Wind Energy Center. The 39-turbine site in Barnes County North Dakota delivers a total combined capacity of 62 megawatts (MW), harnessing some of the nation’s best wind resources to generate clean, cost-effective energy.
We're working with Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. to develop, construct, and co-own an approximately 95-mile 345-kilovolt (kV) transmission line from Jamestown, North Dakota, to Ellendale, North Dakota. This project allows both companies to create a more resilient regional transmission grid while continuing to provide reliable, affordable electricity to its customers. We'll lead the development and construction of the project.
On Monday, July 25, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) Board of Directors approved $10.3 billion in transmission projects focused on its Midwest Subregion, which includes our service area. These projects are the first group of four in MISO’s Long-Range Transmission Planning process that aims to integrate new generation resources outlined in MISO member and state plans and increase resilience in the face of severe weather events. We’ll work on projects in this first group as well as the second.
In 2016 we began the multi-year process of relicensing our five hydroelectric plants along the Otter Tail River. On February 17, 2022, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued its order for a new 40-year license.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) approved changes to our rates to reflect major shifts in our company’s generation fleet. The approval also marks changes to operating costs and revenues that occurred since our last Minnesota rate review, filed in 2016. The MPUC set our return on equity at 9.48%, which is an increase from the 9.41% return approved in 2017.
Today we submitted our Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) to regulatory commissions in each of the three states we serve: Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
We retired Hoot Lake Plant on May 27 this year, marking the end of 100 years of coal-fired energy generation at the site. On July 21, 2021, we commemorated the plant’s legacy of safe, reliable generation—and its dependable, innovative employees.
On May 27, 2021, we retired Hoot Lake Plant, marking the end of 100 years of coal-fired energy generation at the site.
After years of planning and two years of construction and testing, Astoria Station now is part of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) energy market, allowing MISO to economically dispatch the unit. Located in Deuel County, South Dakota, this 245-megawatt (MW) simple-cycle natural gas combustion turbine stands ready and able to generate reliable electricity our customers can count on.
As we plan to meet our customers’ energy needs both now and into the future, we’re making significant changes to our energy generation fleet.
After years of planning and 17 months of construction, Otter Tail Power Company’s Merricourt Wind Energy Center is operational.
“We appreciate the Commission’s input on our initial request and their decision to approve our updated interim rate request as filed,” said Otter Tail Power Company President Tim Rogelstad. “With this decision, we’re able to recover on our prudent investments in necessary infrastructure and technology to provide our customers with electric service that’s increasingly clean, safe, and reliable while maintaining rates among the lowest in the nation.”
“We’re creating a cleaner energy future while keeping the prices our customers pay among the lowest in the nation,” said Otter Tail Power Company President Tim Rogelstad. “Making this request now better prepares us for long-term success in providing safe, reliable, low-cost electricity to our customers.”
Otter Tail Power Company plans to build a nearly 50-megawatt (MW) solar farm on land around the soon-to-be-retired Hoot Lake Plant in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. Hoot Lake Solar will include around 170,000 solar panels, generating enough energy to power approximately 10,000 homes every year.
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.”
“As the second smallest investor-owned utility in the country, our size gives us unique perspective into the small, rural communities we serve,” said Otter Tail Power Company President Tim Rogelstad. “With those communities and customers in mind, we’ve made smart, innovative business decisions to ensure the prices they pay for reliable energy and top-notch customer service will continue to be among the lowest in the country.”
Tomorrow Otter Tail Power Company will file a request with the North Dakota Public Service Commission (NDPSC) to increase its rates. The filing starts a nearly year-long process, often referred to as a rate case, during which the NDPSC first reviews the costs the company incurs to provide customers with energy and related services and then determines how much customers should pay for those services.
“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.
On March 2, 2017, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) granted Otter Tail Power Company a revenue increase to help pay for environmental technologies, infrastructure improvements, and rising costs associated with providing safe, reliable, environmentally responsible electricity.
Otter Tail Power Company’s resource plan identifies the most affordable and reliable combination of energy resources for meeting its customers’ needs during the next 15 years. “The wind energy addition is part of our company’s plan to meet our customers’ growing energy needs, replace expiring power purchase agreements, and prepare for the 2021 retirement of the aging 140-MW coal-fired Hoot Lake Plant in Fergus Falls, Minnesota,” said Otter Tail Power Company President Tim Rogelstad. Hoot Lake Plant Unit 2 has been on line since 1959. Unit 3 has been on line since 1964. The company also plans to add 250 MW of natural gas-fired generation in the next five years.
“While we’ve been diligent in managing expenses and selecting low-cost options to meet customer needs, the cost of providing service is more than we’re able to recover through our current rates, which went into effect in 2011 based on 2009 costs,” said Tim Rogelstad, Otter Tail Power Company president.
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.”