Otter Tail Power Study Misses the Mark
Dependence on Coal Harms Utility’s Long Term Clean Energy Plan
FERGUS FALLS – Today, Otter Tail Power announced a proposal to spend $10 million in ratepayer money to continue burning coal another eight years at the more than 50 year old Hoot Lake coal plant. The proposal demonstrates Otter Tail Power’s dependence on coal, as the utility also plans to spend $490 million retrofit its Big Stone I coal plant. Otter Tail Power’s proposal was prompted by a Public Utilities Commission order that the utility study opportunities to diversify its energy portfolio, which is overly dependent on dirty fossil fuels.
“Otter Tail Power’s proposal to spend millions on dirty fossil fuels completely misses the mark,” said Jessica Tatro, Sierra Club Beyond Coal Organizing Representative. “We need to take this opportunity to diversify our energy mix and to expand investments in renewable energy technologies that can provide power and jobs without the dangerous and harmful effects of burning fossil fuels like coal.”
Wind energy is cost competitive with fossil fuels and creates nearly double the number of jobs per million dollars invested. Otter Tail Power is based in one of the best geographic areas for large amounts of low cost wind energy. Yet, Otter Tail Power is considering less than 10% of their energy mix from wind by 2026.
Continued investment in fossil fuels ignores broad public support for investments in renewable energy and energy conservation. A 2012 poll of Minnesotan votersfound that over two-thirds of voters polled supported a variety of clean energy laws like Minnesota’s law to secure 25 percent of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2025—regardless of political affiliation.
“This proposal would pump ratepayer money into fossil fuels instead of investing in clean energy, like wind, solar and energy conservation. Otter Tail is making a choice for Minnesotans that Minnesotans don’t support,” said Tatro. “Otter Tail Power needs to get serious about investing in Minnesota’s clean energy future which will create good paying jobs.”
The Minnesota Department of Commerce warned Otter Tail Powerthat continuing to burn coal at Hoot Lake was uneconomical and the plant should be retired by 2018 regardless of the costs of complying with EPA clean air safeguards.