|  May 30, 2024

Otter Tail Power’s resource plan adds carbon-free generation, but needs more ambitious approach to exiting coal plants

Clean Energy Organizations applaud wind, solar, and battery additions, but urge the utility to take a more proactive approach to transition away from coal and align its resource mix with Minnesota climate goals.


SAINT PAUL, MINNESOTA - On May 30, 2024, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved a modified version of Otter Tail Power's Integrated Resource Plan. The long-range plan, which lays out the utility's plans for electricity generation and investments over the next 15 years, includes 200-300 megawatts of new solar by 2027, 150-200 megawatts of new wind by 2029, and 20-75 megawatts of battery storage by 2029. These are significant carbon-free additions for Otter Tail Power, and the Clean Energy Organizations (which includes Fresh Energy, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Sierra Club, and Clean Grid Alliance) commend the Commission's decision to approve them.

The Commission also approved Otter Tail Power's proposal to take a new approach to operating the Coyote Station coal-burning plant in North Dakota by utilizing "Available Maximum Emergency" (AME) status for the approximately 70 megawatts share of the plant that serves Otter Tail Power's Minnesota customers. Under AME operations from June 2026 through May 2031, that 70 megawatts share will not operate except in emergency events called by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO).
Utilizing AME at Coyote Station will offer some emission reductions from 2026-2031, but does not end Minnesota's reliance on and subsidy of the coal plant. The Clean Energy Organizations (CEOs) are pleased the Commission recognized that Minnesota customers should not be beholden to Coyote Station in perpetuity and set a firm end date after which Minnesotans will no longer pay to operate the plant. However, the record is clear that customers would benefit from an earlier withdrawal from the coal plant. The CEOs urge Otter Tail Power to take seriously the need to exit Coyote Station as soon as possible. Given the cost, emissions impacts, and health implications of continuing to operate the Coyote coal plant, exiting in a timely fashion is imperative.

"We appreciate the Commission's recognition that Minnesota's investment in a costly, polluting coal plant must come to an end. Given the Commission's decision, we hope Otter Tail will now act with the speed the climate crisis demands to release Minnesotans from its coal plants." said Amelia Vohs, climate director at Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy

"Fresh Energy applauds the Commission for approving a portfolio of new renewable and battery resource additions that are necessary for Otter Tail Power's energy transition. The utility needs to take a more ambitious and future-focused approach to carbon reductions and aligning its electricity resources with the state policy of Minnesota," said Isabel Ricker, Senior Director, Clean Electricity at Fresh Energy.

"The Coyote coal plant is in the top 10 in the country for sulfur dioxide emissions and the top 15 for nitrogen oxides emissions, making its continued operation both a climate and public health disaster for downwind communities including those in Minnesota. Minnesota must end its subsidy of Coyote as soon as possible. We look forward to continuing to work with our allies to assure that Otter Tail Power's coal plants close well before the end of the decade," said Margaret Levin, Sierra Club, Minnesota Chapter Director.

"CGA recognizes Otter Tail Power's unique position as a multi-state utility and the challenge of balancing interests across their footprint. This integrated resource plan is reflective of that challenging dynamic, and we at CGA appreciate the Utility and the Commission's decision to add additional renewable energy resources and battery storage as part of the resource plan. The Otter Tail IRP has shown that there is significant work that needs to be done across the Midwest to ensure that we can achieve a carbon free future while balancing the costs and interests of ratepayers," said Peder Mewis, Regional Policy Director, Clean Grid Alliance.

In the last year, U.S. EPA has published a suite of regulations to address public health harm and emissions from coal-burning power plants. These regulations will impact the cost of operating both of Otter Tail Power's coal-burning power plants.


Media Contacts:
Jo Olson, Fresh Energy,, 218.290.6247
Sarah Horner, MCEA,, 612.868.3024
Margaret Levin, Sierra Club,, 612.259.2446
Kelley Welf, Clean Grid Alliance,, 612.978.2444