For many years we've provided apprentice training for lineworkers early in their careers to advance their knowledge and prepare them for required next steps in their certifications. And for many years, this training was largely classroom-based learning. But we've been working on enhancements that provide more hands-on experiences.
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.
Summer is here and forecasted higher-than-average temperatures may lead to increased energy demand. “Otter Tail Power has enough resources to serve our customers, though expected summer weather challenges could mean we’ll need to take additional steps to help maintain reliability of the energy grid,” said Asset Management Vice President JoAnn Thompson. “Rest assured, our employees are well trained and ready for any type of energy grid event, with solid plans for grid and market fluctuations.”
Thursday evening’s severe weather has resulted in prolonged outages for more than 24,000 of our customers primarily in Minnesota and South Dakota. With significant damage to equipment, including more than 250 broken poles, we anticipate that it may take most of the day before crews are able to complete repairs. Some customers could be without power for three to four days.
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.
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.
We continue our investments in grid reliability to provide affordable electricity you can count on. “Our commitment to providing low-cost, reliable service throughout our rural area involves a combination of efforts,” said System Infrastructure and Reliability Manager Michael Riewer. "We're planning the future of our generation mix, making improvements to our delivery system, and investing in new transmission projects and technology, all to maintain excellent service for every customer."
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.
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.”