Otter Tail Power to add wind power, natural gas generation in the Dakotas

Jul 5, 2017

Credit Otter Tail Power Company

Otter Tail Power Company is proposing a North Dakota wind farm and a South Dakota natural gas power plant to replace an aging coal-fired power plant.

The plant is the Hoot Lake power plant.

"It's really a 1950s-era plant," said Otter Tail vice-president for public relations Cris Oehler. "If you've got a car, you can keep it going for some miles. But at some point, you need to buy a new vehicle. And that's kind of where we are with the Hoot Lake plant."

The Merricourt wind farm is proposed for McIntosh and Dickey Counties in North Dakota. It would be a 150 megawatt farm, to be designed and built by EDF Renewable Energy. The natural gas plant would be a “peaking plant,” meaning it would run during high demand times, and when the wind isn't blowing. It would be built near Astoria, South Dakota.

"The plant will be built at the intersection of the Northern Border pipeline and the Big Stone South-Brookings large transmission line that is being built there right now. That spot will minimize landowner impacts, and avoid the significant costs of extending a gas pipeline or transmission line."

The Hoot Lake power plant would be closing by 2021.

Oehler said this will significantly increase the percentage of power consumers will receive from renewable sources.

"Today, wind energy supplies about 19 percent of the electricity we use to serve our customers," Oehler said. "When we make this addition with Merricourt, our customers will get about 28 percent from wind."

Oehler said wind is a low cost resource.