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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 27, 2018                
CONTACT: Leah Mohr, deputy executive director, South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, (605) 773-3201 or (605) 280-4327

PUC gives Otter Tail Power Co. OK to build natural gas peaking plant

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission this week gave the go ahead to Otter Tail Power Co. to build Astoria Station, a 250-megawatt simple-cycle natural gas fired electricity generating facility near Astoria in Deuel County. The project will be constructed, owned and operated by Otter Tail Power Co.

On July 26 at its regular meeting, the commission voted unanimously to approve a settlement stipulation presented by Otter Tail Power Co. and PUC staff. The PUC’s approval allows the company to move forward with the Astoria Station, which will be designed as a peaking plant, to provide electricity during times of high demand or when other generating sources are not available.

Otter Tail will begin construction of the $165 million project in 2019 and expects to begin generating electricity there by March 2021. The station will receive natural gas from the Northern Border Pipeline and transmit its generated electricity to the Big Stone South-Brookings County 345-kilovolt electric transmission line.

The company filed the permit application with the PUC on Oct. 5, 2017. A four-member PUC team analyzed the application. A local review committee, composed of officials from the Deuel and Brookings county commissions, Deubrook and Deuel school districts, the towns of Astoria, Brandt and Toronto, and a representative from Otter Tail Power Co., studied the social and economic effect the plant will have on the area.

Nearly 40 people attended a public input hearing held by the PUC in Toronto in November. No party objected to the application.

“I appreciate Otter Tail choosing to build this facility in South Dakota,” PUC Chairperson Kristie Fiegen said. “I understand our state was being considered along with other states. You chose well to strengthen your reliability by building the station here.”

“Otter Tail filed a very thorough application,” stated Gary Hanson, vice chairman of the PUC. “Additionally, the findings and recommendations outlined in the local review committee’s report indicate this project will be a good neighbor.”

Commissioner Chris Nelson recognized the efforts of the PUC staff and Otter Tail Power Co. over the last nine months. “I commend you for bringing this settlement before us. It is clear both parties worked out any issues and you’ve presented us with a solid settlement,” he said.

The Astoria Station docket can be viewed on the PUC's website at, Commission Actions, Electric Dockets, 2017 Electric Dockets, EL17-042 - In the Matter of the Application of Otter Tail Power Company for an Energy Conversion Facility Permit for the Construction of a Combustion Turbine Generator and Associated Infrastructure Including a Natural Gas Pipeline and Electric Transmission Line near Astoria, South Dakota.