New cost-effective, clean energy for Otter Tail Power customers

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On March 16, 2017, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved Otter Tail Power Company’s new 15-year Resource Plan, affirming that additional clean energy investments are a good bet for the utility’s customers.

Fresh Energy and its partners the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Sierra Club, and Wind on the Wires worked hard in the 10-month regulatory proceeding, making the case that Otter Tail could do more than the more limited investments originally proposed by the utility.

The plan as approved includes significant investments in energy efficiency, wind energy, and solar energy. These new clean energy investments will bring clear benefits to Otter Tail’s customers.

Otter Tail’s resource plan as approved by the PUC includes:

  • Confirmed retirement of the coal-burning Hoot Lake power plant in Fergus Falls by 2021
  • The addition of up to 400 megawatts of wind energy by 2023 (double the new wind originally proposed by Otter Tail)
  • The addition of up to 30 megawatts of solar energy by 2020
  • Energy efficiency savings targets equivalent to 1.6 percent annual energy savings

The PUC also approved up to 250 megawatts of peaking capacity in 2021, which Otter Tail plans to meet with a new natural gas plant in North or South Dakota. Fresh Energy and its partners made strong arguments that Otter Tail had not adequately demonstrated that a gas plant is in the public interest.

Overall, the PUC’s decision is a big win for Otter Tail’s customers and confirms that clean energy is the best choice. The additional wind and solar resources will provide benefits to Otter Tail’s customers and the communities that host the new projects. With the retirement by May 2021 of the Hoot Lake coal-fired units, Otter Tail will have no coal plants in Minnesota.

Otter Tail is an investor-owned electric utility that provides power for residential, commercial, and industrial customers in parts of Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Otter Tail’s next 15-year plan is due to regulators June 3, 2019.