FERGUS FALLS, Minn. — Otter Tail Power Co. has submitted plans to regulatory commissions in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota indicating it is starting the process of withdrawing its 35% ownership interest in the coal-fired Coyote Station in Beulah, North Dakota.
The Integrated Resource Plan Otter Tail Power submitted to regulators shows the company is requesting authority to add dual fuel capability at its Astoria Station, which is in South Dakota and is fueled in part by natural gas from North Dakota’s Williston Basin; add 150 megawatts of solar power generation at a location yet to be determined; and commence the process of withdrawal from its ownership position in Coyote Station by 2028.
"Coyote Station has been a safe, reliable, cost-effective resource for our customers for 40 years. For that, we are grateful," Otter Tail Power Company President Tim Rogelstad said in a written statement.
He said Otter Tail Power was withdrawing from ownership in Coyote Station because more flexible and economical resource options are available. He stressed that Otter Tail Power's move is not a decision to retire Coyote Station, which is a co-owned facility.
"Coyote Station’s future is not ours alone to determine," said Rogelstad, who added that the station's owners will continue to collaborate on analyzing data and weighing decisions that will impact the plant and each company’s employees, customers and communities.
"We are taking the time to get these important decisions right given the many stakeholders involved. It’s likely to be a couple of years before we know the path of any withdrawal from plant ownership and operation," he added.
According to Otter Tail Power, customers will receive approximately 35% of their energy from renewable resources by 2023.
The news of Otter Tail Power's planned withdrawal from Coyote Station ownership was met with applause from Clean Energy Organizations, a group comprised of the Clean Grid Alliance, Fresh Energy, the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy and the Sierra Club.
"Otter Tail Power's plan to stop investing in the Coyote coal plant — one of the dirtiest coal plants in the United States — is a clear victory for OTP's ratepayers," said Jessica Tritsch, senior campaign representative with the Beyond Coal to Clean Energy Campaign at the Sierra Club.
U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, issued a statement Thursday, Sept. 2, stressing that efforts will carry on to ensure coal's ongoing role in the nation's energy mix, as well as Coyote Station's continued operation.
"We look forward to working with the other co-owners of Coyote Station to ensure this vital coal-fired baseload facility continues to provide affordable, reliable power to customers in our region," Hoeven said.