Hoot Lake Plant retires

Stephanie Hoff

Fergus Falls, Minnesota - On May 27, 2021, Otter Tail Power Company retired Hoot Lake Plant, marking the end of 100 years of coal-fired energy generation at the site.

The plant, a 140-megawatt (MW) coal-fired generating facility in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, played a vital role in the company’s history of generating safe, reliable, affordable energy.

Get your local and state news right here at Devilslakejournal.com.  SUBSCRIBE NOW!

Hoot Lake Plant’s legacy

Otter Tail Power started generating electricity for customers at Dayton Hollow Dam on the Otter Tail River in 1909 and finished construction on the Hoot Lake hydroelectric plant in 1914.

As its number of customers grew, the company increased generating capacity, building 1,500-kilowatt steam generating units at the Hoot Lake site in 1921 and 1923. In 1948 Otter Tail Power replaced those with Unit 1, which retired in 2006. The company commissioned Hoot Lake Plant’s current coal-fired operational units (Units 2 and 3) in 1959 and 1964, greatly increasing the plant’s generation capacity from 5 MW to 145 MW.

“Throughout its 100-year history, Hoot Lake Plant has generated more than electricity for our customers, company, and communities—it’s been a place where our employees worked to safely provide an essential service, especially during times when it was most needed, as well as a place where careers, relationships, and memories began and grew,” said Otter Tail Power President Tim Rogelstad. “The plant is just one example of how our company has risen to meet the needs of our many stakeholders, but it’s the people and spirit of OTP that truly made it possible. And that legacy of people and perseverance will remain.” 

Retiring the coal-fired facility

While COVID-19 and other safety precautions prevent in-person tours of the plant, Otter Tail Power invites the public onsite virtually through a 360-degree tour at otpco.com/HootLakePlant. The company also is planning for a retirement commemoration in July.

Otter Tail Power expects deconstruction to take 18 to 24 months, depending on weather and similar unknowns. Hydropower production will continue at the site, and the company will continue to use an office building and two storage buildings. After deconstructing the coal-fired facility, the plant’s former site will remain an open field in the short-term. Safety and security of both residents and company property remain top priority.

The recently completed Merricourt Wind Energy Center and Astoria Station are part of Otter Tail Power’s plan to continue to meet customers’ energy needs both now and into the future.

“Whether you worked at, visited, or simply supported Hoot Lake Plant’s operations, I want to say thank you for your contributions to its legacy,” 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.  

Be sure to follow Devils Lake Journal on our twitter page, @devilslakenews, and like us on Facebook!