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S.D. commission approves Otter Tail's 250-MW gas-fired plant

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S.D. commission approves Otter Tail's 250-MW gas-fired plant

The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission on July 26 voted to approve construction of Otter Tail Power Co.'s 250-MW gas-fired Astoria Station Project (Astoria Station Natural Gas Plant).

The simple-cycle facility to be built about 1.5 miles northwest of Astoria, S.D, is part of the company's plan to meet customers' electric needs, replace expiring capacity purchase agreements, and prepare for the 2021 retirement of the 1950s-era 140-MW coal-fired Hoot Lake plant near Fergus Falls, Minn. The other part of that plan is the construction of the 150-MW Merricourt Wind Project in North Dakota.

The Otter Tail Corp. subsidiary in October 2017 sought an energy conversion facility permit for the construction of the Astoria plant and its associated infrastructure. The company on July 12 filed a settlement reached with commission staff calling for the commission to issue a permit for the project. During its meeting on July 26, the commission voted 3-0 to approve the settlement and issue the permit. A written order was not available.

"Reliability is extremely important to this commission and this gives some more assurance to reliability," commission Chairperson Kristie Fiegen said.

The project includes a 10-inch diameter natural gas pipeline that would run less than 1,000 feet to connect to the Northern Border pipeline, less than half a mile of a 345-kV generation tie transmission line, and a short segment of a water pipe. The project will connect to the Big Stone-Brookings County 345-kV transmission line.

Otter Tail estimates total construction cost to be $165 million. Construction is expected to start in the spring of 2019, with the power plant expected to be in service in 2021. (South Dakota PUC Docket No. EL17-042)