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University of Minnesota Extension

Retirement of a coal-generated electric power plant in Fergus Falls

Key findings for communities

  • The electric power generation industry is an important component of Fergus Falls’ economy. The utility industry accounts for 4 percent of the city’s workforce. Fergus Falls has 15 times the number of employees in the industry as compared to the national average. Otter Tail Power headquarters are located in the city
  • The retirement of the Hoot Lake coal-fired plant will have implications for the local economy. Otter Tail Power has several initiatives to moderate the impact of the plant’s retirement.
  • The Hoot Lake plant retirement, with moderation efforts, will result in an estimated loss of $5.65 million in output in Otter Tail County. This includes $0.4 million in lost labor income. Fifteen jobs will be affected.

About this report

Otter Tail Power’s energy portfolio diversification goals include a shift from coal-generated electricity toward clean energy initiatives. In 2012, a baseline diversification study indicated the need to retire the Hoot Lake coal-fired plant near Fergus Falls. To replace the electricity generated by Hoot Lake, Otter Tail Power announced plans to build a new natural gas plant and invest in wind resources. Otter Tail Power currently employs 35 people at the Hoot Lake facility. Otter Tail Power’s headquarters remain in Fergus Falls.

The plant retirement will have implications for Fergus Falls’ economy. The plant retirement will affect not only those at the plant but also community members. To respond to this economic change, decision makers in Fergus Falls need information regarding the potential economic impact of the retirement. University of Minnesota Extension prepared this economic analysis report with matching support from the EDA Center at the University of Minnesota-Crookston. The study was requested by the City of Fergus Falls.

More about this report

Read full report (PDF)


Brigid Tuck, Extension senior economic impact analyst

Reviewed in 2018

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