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Otter Tail Power hydro dam repairs part of license renewal

Company is in final year of federal relicensing.

Hydro dam photo.jpg
Otter Tail Power Co.’s Pisgah Dam, on the west side of Fergus Falls, is among five hydropower stations along the Otter Tail River in the Fergus Falls area. (Tom Hintgen / Otter Tail County correspondent)

Hydropower relicensing by Otter Tail Power Co., in coordination with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, is done periodically.

The Fergus Falls-based electric utility is into its final year of a five-year relicensing process.

“On Nov. 27, 2019, we filed our final license application with FERC,” said Otter Tail Power spokesperson Rebecca Michael. “On May 19 of this year, FERC accepted our company’s license application.”

She said that one final phase involves an independent environmental analysis.

“The Pisgah Dam maintenance work, on the west side of Fergus Falls, is going well, though it’s taking longer than we expected,” Michael said.

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There were concrete sections at Pisgah, outside of Otter Tail Power’s original plan, that required attention. The maintenance work at Pisgah Dam is unrelated to the FERC hydro relicensing process. Otter Tail Power had been planning the work for several years.

“We’re taking the time now to replace some concrete sections, and we’re anticipating this project to be completed sometime in October 2020,” she added.

Otter Tail Power Co. will continue to provide project information and updates at otpco.com/hydro , part of the company’s website.

Water power stations date back to the early years of Otter Tail Power Co., which generated electricity for the first time in 1909.

Pisgah Dam on the west side of Fergus Falls is among five water power stations in the Fergus Falls area. The others are Taplin Gorge (Friberg) north of town, the water power station at Hoot Lake, Central (Wright) in downtown Fergus Falls and the Dayton Hollow water power station five miles south of town.

A sixth hydro station operated by Otter Tail Power Company is along the Mississippi River east of Bemidji.

Water power is a low producer of the company’s energy mix which also includes coal, natural gas, wind, solar and combustion turbines.

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