PIERRE | Otter Tail Power Co. wants permission from South Dakota regulators to construct an electricity production plant in Deuel County.

The 250-megawatt facility, known as Astoria Station, would be in Scandinavia Township on the north side of S.D. Highway 28. The site is about 1.5 miles northwest of Astoria and about four miles east of Toronto.

Natural gas from the Northern Border pipeline that runs through the company’s recently acquired property would be used to generate the electricity.

Otter Tail estimated construction to cost about $165 million. The company expects the plant to be in service by May 2021.

On Thursday, state Public Utilities Commission set Nov. 27 for a public input meeting at 5:30 p.m. MST in Toronto at Deubrook Elementary School gymnasium at 695 Palisades Ave.

One megawatt can supply up to 1,000 residences at times of average demand. Natural gas provides flexibility to respond to hourly and daily changes in demand.

The commission received Otter Tail’s application Oct. 5. The company described Astoria Station as a “least-cost” approach.

Otter Tail plans to replace capacity-purchase agreements that are expiring and also close its 1950s era coal-fired 150-megawatt Hoot Lake plant near the company’s headquarters of Fergus Falls, Minn.

Astoria Station would tie into a new switching station that Otter Tail and Northern States Power want to build as part of a transmission network.

Otter Tail also intends to add 150 megawatts of electricity from wind production near Merricourt, N.D., according to the application.

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The investor-owned company serves about 131,200 customers in 422 communities of western Minnesota, northeastern South Dakota and eastern North Dakota. Forty-nine of the communities are in South Dakota.

Otter Tail expects load commitments to increase, from 795 megawatts this year to 938 megawatts by 2031.

“A significant portion of this load growth is expected to result from expansion of pipelines that transport oil from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and from Canada,” the application said.

Without Astoria Station and the Merricourt wind farm, and with the planned shutdown of Hoot Lake and the expiration of supplier contracts, Otter Tail would have a capacity deficit of about 273 megawatts in 2021, according to the company.

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