Latest News

Minnesota ranks number two nationwide for wind energy

Wind energy use is increasing all over the country and that includes in our area.
Minnesota is ranked the second highest in the nation for the wind power it distributes, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Energy. The department says the price for the state’s wind is the lowest to date.

“It’s a great area for wind development and the landowners seem to embrace it and companies have flocked there,” Mike Herro, Community Service Manager for Xcel Energy said. Read more

States question whether power grid operator watches out for consumers

Con­sum­er pro­tec­tion is get­ting short-cir­cuit­ed on the Midwest e­lec­tric grid, ac­cord­ing to reg­u­la­to­ry watch­dogs in Minnesota and oth­er states.

State of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing Minnesota Commerce Com­mis­sion­er Mike Roth­man, whose agen­cy regular­ly chal­len­ges utility rate hikes, say they lack the mon­ey and legal fire­pow­er to en­gage power­ful u­til­i­ty in­ter­ests in com­plex, multistate reg­u­la­to­ry bat­tles over grid and trans­mis­sion costs.

The out­come of these ob­scure, high-stakes reg­u­la­to­ry ac­tions, in­clud­ing one that goes be­fore an administrative judge in Washington, D.C., on Mon­day, can cost e­lec­tric rate­pay­ers hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars. Read more

What will Obama's power plan do to the grid?

VIDEO: Philip Moeller on the power-grid risks to states
Environmentalists cheered last week when President Barack Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency issued the country's first-ever mandatory greenhouse gas standards for power plants.

But an anxious power industry has also been warning: What about reliability? Any major shift in how America makes electricity, especially away from the reliable but high-carbon "baseline capacity" of coal, poses a threat to the crucial national power grid.

How serious is that risk? That's the question facing FERC, the independent agency that played only a tangential role advising the EPA on its rules, but maintains a core mission of helping consumers get reliable energy services at reasonable costs. In May, all five of FERC's commissioners urged EPA to give states more time to comply with the Clean Power Plan and also to include additional flexibility safeguards to ensure the country's lights stay on. Read more

Otter Tail Power tied for highest ranked in J.D. Power customer satisfaction study

Last month J.D. Power announced that Otter Tail Power Company ranked highest in customer satisfaction among midsize utilities in the Midwest in its 2015 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study SM in a tie.

This is the first year that this J.D. Power study, now in its 17th year, has included Otter Tail Power Company. Companies in the J.D. Power midsize utility segment serve between 100,000 and 499,999 residential customers. Read more

The Lowly Lightbulb Outshines Solar and Wind on U.S. Power Grids

Utility and power grid managers in the U.S. are learning that the best way to cut carbon emissions and improve efficiency is the easiest: Just change your lightbulbs.

The nation’s largest grid, serving more than 61 million customers from Washington to Chicago, is revising its demand forecasts after recognizing that better lighting has undercut its projections. Swapping all of Thomas Edison’s incandescent lightbulbs with lamps containing light emitting diodes, or LEDs, would save enough electricity to power 20 million American homes, according to the Energy Department. Read more

Report: MN on track to exceed clean energy targets

An analysis released Thursday shows Minnesota is the only state in the Midwest on track to exceed federal targets aimed at reducing climate change.

The report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, which supports the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan, said Minnesota's early investments in renewable energy and energy conservation will help it surpass the targets set for 2022 and 2030.

The Clean Power Plan requires states to reduce carbon emissions from power plants, and each state has different targets to meet. Minnesota's is roughly 40 percent from 2005 levels. Read more

DOE: U.S. wind grew 8% in 2014 with prices dropping to all-time lows

Dive Brief:
•The U.S. wind industry grew 8% in 2014 to reach a cumulative installed capacity of 65.9 GW, thanks to the 2013 extension of the $0.023 per kWh production tax credit (PTC) vital to its growth, according to the 2014 Wind Technologies Market Report from the Department of Energy (DOE) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL).
•Wind output met 4.9% of an average year’s U.S. electricity demand in 2014. Driven by the PTC’s structure, which rewards performance, the U.S.’s second-in-the-world installed wind capacity made it the world leader in wind energy-generated electricity production.
•Wind energy prices, according to LBNL, are at an all-time low and competitive with wholesale power prices and the cost of fossil and nuclear generation in resource-rich regions. Growth driven by low prices and increased competitiveness added 22,500 wind-related jobs in 2014, bringing the industry’s total to 73,000. Read more

Energy Department Reports Highlight Trends of Growing U.S. Wind Energy Industry

Washington, D.C. -- According to two reports released today by the Energy Department, the U.S. wind energy industry continued growing at an impressive rate in 2014, further solidifying America’s position as a global leader in wind energy. Wind power is a key component of the President’s all-of-the-above energy strategy and Clean Power Plan to reduce climate-changing carbon pollution, diversify our energy economy, and boost America’s economic competitiveness by bringing innovative technologies online. With rapidly increasing wind energy generation, fast-growing demand, and steadily decreasing wind energy prices—the lowest ever seen in the United States— the U.S. wind energy market remains strong. Read more

Cow power — manure — seen as part of climate change strategy

Capturing methane from manure can reduce pollution and save energy, but technology can be tricky and too expensive to make money. Read more

Minnesota Power plans to boost renewables to a third of its fuel mix by 2028

Dive Brief:
•Minnesota Power will produce a third of its power from renewable sources by 2028, while also utilizing a third coal and natural gas respectively.
•The utility plans to cease coal operations at Taconite Harbor Units 1 and 2 in Schroeder, Minn., by the end of 2020.
•The company will add up to 300 MW of gas-fired generation to its portfolio within the next decade, and also intends to build both large- and small-scale solar generation facilities. Read more