Otter Tail Power Company completes Astoria Station

Devils Lake Journal

DEVILS LAKE- After years of planning and two years of construction and testing, Otter Tail Power Company’s Astoria Station now is part of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) energy market, allowing MISO to economically dispatch the unit. Located in Deuel County, South Dakota, this 245-megawatt (MW) simple-cycle natural gas combustion turbine stands ready and able to generate reliable electricity Otter Tail Power customers can count on.

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Offering flexible operations

This quick starter is nimble and capable of swiftly adapting as energy demand fluctuates and market conditions change. The company designed Astoria Station to meet customers’ future energy needs, replace expiring capacity purchase agreements, and prepare for the 2021 retirement of its 1950s-era 140-MW coal-fired Hoot Lake Plant in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. It provides a reliable backstop for the Merricourt Wind Energy Center, which came on line in December 2020, and additional wind and solar resources. “Astoria Station’s natural gas combustion turbine is able to ramp up quickly—generating electricity in less than ten minutes—filling gaps when customer demand for energy is high or conditions for renewable energy generation aren’t ideal,” said Otter Tail Power President Tim Rogelstad.

Bringing community benefits

The two-year construction and testing process brought approximately 270 workers to the site during peak construction, representing nearly $30 million in labor costs with local sourcing for materials such as concrete. The project also provides a $3 million property tax contribution in its first five years of operation and $1 million in each future year supporting schools, water and fire districts, and local public services. Astoria Station will get its natural gas for electric generation from Northern Border Pipeline, which includes natural gas from North Dakota’s Williston Basin and synthetic natural gas from Dakota Gasification Company’s Great Plains Synfuels Plant near Beulah, North Dakota. “Thank you to everyone involved with the Astoria Station project. Our talented team developed and managed the entire operation from start to finish and did an outstanding job,” said Rogelstad. “Their focus, dedication, and commitment to safety, combined with local community and contractor support, made this project a success amid an unprecedented pandemic.”

“I’m excited that Otter Tail Power is continuing to invest in South Dakota. With this new facility, we’re increasing the reliability of South Dakota’s energy supply,” said South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem. “South Dakota is open for business, and I look forward to continuing to work with Otter Tail Power in the years to come.” 

Providing low-emission generation

Astoria Station is able to produce more dispatchable electricity than the soon-to-retire Hoot Lake Plant—with projected 85 percent less carbon and nearly no sulfur dioxide or mercury emissions. “By 2023 our customers will receive approximately 35 percent of their energy from renewable resources. And by 2025 collective carbon emissions from generation resources we own will be approximately 50 percent below 2005 levels—all while keeping residential rates among the lowest in the nation,” said Rogelstad.

K. William Boyer is the Managing Editor of the Devils Lake News Journal. He can be reached at kboyer@gannett.com, or by phone at (701) 662-2127.  

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