wind, solar and energy savings on the way for Otter Tail Power Customers
Saint Paul, MINN. (March 16, 2017) – Today, the
Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) voted unanimously to approve a
modified version of Otter Tail Power Company’s (Otter Tail) 15-year resource
plan that includes significant investments in energy efficiency and renewable
energy (wind and solar power). The PUC’s decision draws on advocacy in the
proceeding by Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Fresh Energy, Sierra
Club and Wind on the Wires, who argued that Otter Tail’s plan had limited clean
energy investments despite clear benefits to customers. The PUC’s decision
affirms that additional clean energy investments are a good bet for customers.
Otter Tail’s resource plan as approved by the PUC includes:
- Confirmed retirement of
the coal-fired Hoot Lake power plant by 2021
- The addition of up to
400 megawatts (MW) of wind energy by 2023 (200 MW more than originally proposed
by Otter Tail)
- The addition of up to 30 MW of solar energy by
- Energy efficiency
savings targets equivalent to 1.6% annual energy savings
The Commission also approved up to 250 MW of
peaking capacity in 2021, which Otter Tail Power plans to meet with a new
natural gas plant, despite strong arguments during today’s hearing that Otter
Tail had not adequately demonstrated that a gas plant is in the public interest.
The gas plant is proposed to be built in either North or South Dakota--Otter
Tail has not publicly revealed the location other than the fact that it will
not be in Minnesota.
In response to the PUC decision, the Clean
Energy Organizations released the following statements:
“We are pleased with the PUC’s decision to
include additional clean energy in Otter Tail’s plan, which is something we’ve
advocated for in this proceeding over the past 10 months, but we remain
disappointed in the relatively shallow analysis of clean energy alternatives to
Otter Tail’s proposed natural gas plant.” said Leigh Currie, Minnesota
Center for Environmental Advocacy attorney representing Wind on the Wires,
Sierra Club, and Fresh Energy. “Overall, however, this is a big win for Otter
Tail’s customers and confirms that clean energy is the best choice.”
“We applaud Otter Tail Power Company for its
commitment to adding clean energy resources to their system. The additional
wind and solar resources will provide benefits to both Otter Tail’s customers and
the communities that host the new projects. The company is a leader in the
level of renewables it has on its system, given its total resource needs,” said
Beth Soholt, Executive Director, Wind on the Wires.
“In the next few years, Otter Tail will be replacing
its remaining Minnesota coal units with investments including greater energy
savings for their customers, as well as wind and solar development that
benefits communities in western Minnesota,” said J. Drake Hamilton, Science
Policy Director, Fresh Energy.
“Today’s market has created tremendous
opportunities for affordable and reliable clean energy, and Otter Tail Power
customers will see significant benefits from the added wind, solar and energy
efficiency.” said Jessica Tritsch, Senior Organizer, Sierra Club. “We
are disappointed in Otter Tail Power’s plan to build a new natural gas
facility. Fossil fuels are costly to our health, air, water and climate and expensive
investment for customers."
Otter Tail Power Company’s next 15 year plan is
due on June 3, 2019.