Fergus Falls-based Otter Tail Power will more than double its wind energy generation with a new wind farm in southeastern North Dakota.
Otter Tail, Minnesota's third largest investor-owned utility, this week unveiled plans for a $250 million wind farm near Merricourt, N.D., which would provide electricity for more than 65,000 homes.
The 150-megawatt wind plant will help replace coal-fired electricity generation that Otter Tail is expected to retire in 2021. Otter Tail already owns three wind farms with a combined capacity of 138 megawatts. A megawatt is a million watts.
The new wind facility near Merricourt is expected to come online in 2019, pending regulatory approval. It will be designed and built by EDF Renewable Energy, a subsidiary of a large French power company.
Otter Tail currently gets 19 percent of its electricity from wind, while coal-fired plants make up around 65 percent of its generation base. The new Merricourt project would increase that wind percentage to 28 percent.
"Upon completion, it will be the largest capital project in our company's history," Tim Rogelstad, Otter Tail's president, said in a statement.
Otter Tail plans to retire its 140 megawatt Hoot Lake power plant in Fergus Falls by 2021. The plant has two coal-fired generators that were built in 1959 and 1964. Otter Tail also owns significant stakes in two other coal-fired plants, one each in North Dakota and South Dakota.
In addition to the Merricourt wind farm, Otter Tail also plans to add 250 megawatts of natural-gas fired electricity generation within the next five years.
The utility provides electricity to about 130,000 customers in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.