Putting the fire out

The Otter Tail Hoot Lake Power Plant was retired on May 27 after 100 years of coal-fired energy generation.

On May 27, the Otter Tail Hoot Lake Power Plant was retired and marked the end of 100 years of coal-fired energy generation at the site according to Otter Tail Power.

The plant, a 140-megawatt coal-fired generating facility in Fergus Falls played a vital role in Otter Tail Power Company’s history of generating safe, reliable, affordable energy.

The legacy and history that the plant leaves behind is enormous. Otter Tail Power started generating electricity for customers at the Dayton Hollow Dam on the Otter Tail River in 1909 and finished construction on the Hoot Lake hydroelectric plant in 1914.

According to a press release from the company, as their customer base grew, they increased generating capacity, building 1,500-kilowatt steam generating units at the Hoot Lake site in 1921 and 1923. In 1948 they replaced those with Unit 1, which was retired in 2006. They 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 to 145 megawatt.

“Throughout its 100-year history, the 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 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.”

Deconstruction of the Hoot Lake plant is expected 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. Company officials say the safety and security of both residents and property remain top priority for the company.

The recently completed Merricourt Wind Energy Center and Astoria Station are part of our 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.

A virtual tour of the retirement is available for viewing in a 360-degree format at otpco.com/HootLakePlant, and Otter Tail Power Company is also planning a retirement commemoration in July.

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