Otter Tail Power wants to delay retirement of coal-fired Hoot Lake plant
Oct 03, 2012 (Menafn - Pioneer Press - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Otter Tail Power Co. says it should be allowed to continue operating its aging Hoot Lake coal-fired power plant near Fergus Falls, Minn., until 2020, over the objections of environmentalists, before replacing it with a cleaner natural gas facility.
The Fergus Falls-based utility filed a study with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Wednesday, Oct. 3., saying that operating the 140 megawatt coal-fired plant would be less costly than retiring the plant in 2015.
The company acknowledges it eventually needs to retire Hoot Lake, said Brian Draxten, Otter Tail's manager of resource planning.
But Otter Tail wants to delay the cost of replacing Hoot Lake because it also has to install 490 million in pollution control equipment at its 475 megawatt Big Stone coal-fired power plant in South Dakota at the same time in 2015, and it wants to reduce the "rate shock" of both projects to its customers, Draxten said.
The PUC in February ordered Otter Tail Power to conduct the study to determine how the utility was diversifying its power sources and reducing its reliance on coal-fired power. The state has one of the country's most aggressive renewable energy standards, calling for utilities like Otter Tail to get 25 percent of their power from clean renewable sources like wind by 2025.
Environmentalists, concerned about carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants, have been calling for years for Hoot Lake to be retired. The facility's two units were built in 1959
and 1964 and provide 20 percent of Otter Tail Power's electrical output, utility officials said.
PUC hearings on Otter Tail Power's proposal are not expected until next spring.
Leslie Brooks Suzukamo can be reached at 651-228-5475. Follow him at twitter.com/suzukamo.
___ (c)2012 the Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.) Visit the Pioneer Press (St.
Paul, Minn.) at www.twincities.com Distributed by MCT Information Services
Copyright (C) 2012, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.