Otter Tail begins work on two clean energy facilities in Dakotas

Published on August 13, 2019 by Dave Kovaleski

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Otter Tail Power Co. began construction on two new energy facilities in the Dakotas.

The Minnesota-based utility broke ground on the Merricourt Wind Energy Center in North Dakota, a 150-megawatt (MW) wind generation facility, and the Astoria Station, a 245-MW simple-cycle natural gas combustion turbine in South Dakota. These two projects are part of the company’s commitment to low-cost and clean energy.

“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,” Otter Tail Power Co. President Tim Rogelstad said. “The Merricourt Wind Energy Center and Astoria Station are catalysts of these 30 percent trajectories.”

The $270 million Merricourt Wind Energy Center began today will create more than 150 jobs and provide millions of dollars in economic benefits to the area. It will generate enough energy to power more than 65,000 homes. It includes 75 Vestas wind turbines and covers approximately 14,000 acres of land. Wanzek Construction in Fargo, N.D., will build it and will take 15 months to build. It is the largest capital project in Otter Tail Power history.

“Our North Dakota service area has some of the best wind resources in the country to produce low-cost energy,” Rogelstad said. “North Dakota’s diverse and abundant generation resources help to ensure the price our customers pay for reliable service remains among the lowest in the nation. And, North Dakota’s energy development leads to investments, jobs, and tax revenues that many other states can only envy.”

Construction on the $158 million Astoria Station facility began in May. During the 13-month construction period, the company estimates the project will create 50 – 70 construction jobs.

“Astoria Station complements our wind resources by providing a reliable backstop when the wind isn’t blowing,” Rogelstad said. “Backing wind with natural gas captures the low-cost energy made possible by the current market for wind generation while helping to ensure sufficient reliability from dispatchable generation.”