Michigan lawmakers seek to double state’s renewable standard

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MICHIGAN: A conservative group wants to make it safe for Republicans to support clean energy, and Democratic lawmakers seek to double the state’s renewable energy standard. (Midwest Energy News, Associated Press)

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FRACKING: Oklahoma state scientists kept quiet about a link between drilling and earthquakes amid industry pressure, an Ohio bill would fast-track fracking in state parks, and an Ohio industry group opposes a proposed drilling tax increase(EnergyWire, Columbus Dispatch, Youngstown Vindicator)

ALSO: A company that had hoped to pioneer waterless fracking in Ohio is selling off its assets. (Columbus Business First)

FRAC SAND: Officials in a Minnesota county reverse course on a proposed frac sand mining ban, failing to approve the ordinance. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

OIL: A shortage of oil storage could lead to another price crash, and North Dakota producers are still on track for a major tax break. (Associated Press, Reuters)

NUCLEAR: A Minnesota lawmaker seeks to overturn the state’s ban on new nuclear plants. (Forum News Service)

WIND: An Iowa researcher says turbulence from wind turbines has a positive effect on crops. (WHO-TV)

SOLAR: A report finds lack of policy certainty is harming solar industry growth in Michigan, while Wisconsin saw modest growth. (Public News Service, Wisconsin News Connection)

CLIMATE: Minneapolis will vote on a resolution to divest from fossil fuels, and Al Gore will train climate activists in Iowa. (Minnesota Public Radio, Des Moines Register)

UTILITIES: A Kansas utility seeks a $125 million rate increase to cover costs related to coal and nuclear plants. (Wichita Eagle)

COAL: An Iowa utility completes a $491 million pollution and efficiency upgrade at an Ottumwa power plant. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

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EFFICIENCY: The University of Iowa considers a $75 million combined heat and power facility. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

COMMENTARY: Disruption doesn’t necessarily mean doom for utilities. (Forbes)

Dynegy says it’s ‘very interested’ in AEP’s Ohio coal plants

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MICHIGAN: Late last year, developers proposed a 40,000-barrel-a-day refinery in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Since that time, “not a peep” has been said about the project. (Midwest Energy News)

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OHIO: Dynegy says it is “very interested” in American Electric Power’s Ohio power plants after the utility failed to win profit guarantees from regulators last month. (Columbus Business First)

EFFICIENCY: A consumer group says efficiency has saved Illinois ratepayers more money than electric competition. (Chicago Tribune)

FRACKING: After five years of studying whether fracking can impact drinking water, the EPA still has no clear answer. (InsideClimate News)

OIL AND GAS:
• Nebraska landowners protest a proposed oil-waste facility over the Ogallala Aquifer. (Chadron Record)
• Warren Buffet, despite his stake in BNSF Railway, says “I would have passed” Keystone XL. (The Hill)
• Ohio sues BP, saying the company was not eligible for $33 million it took from a state cleanup fund. (Columbus Dispatch)
• Michigan lawmakers seek greater setbacks between drilling operations and homes. (Detroit News)

TRANSMISSION: Illinois landowners discuss proposed routes for the Grain Belt Express transmission line. (Terre Haute Tribune-Star)

GREEN ECONOMY: Energy firms are not immune to a manufacturing slowdown in Iowa. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

COMMENTARY: The case for a market-based approach to energy efficiency. (Greentech Media)

Wisconsin governor seeks to kill energy research program

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ILLINOIS: Advocates say Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposal to slash a state efficiency program and move the money to the general fund may be illegal. (Midwest Energy News)

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OHIO: While Ohio regulators last week rejected one utility’s plan to guarantee income for its power plants – characterized by critics as a “bailout” – the decision left the door open for similar proposals in the future. (Midwest Energy News)

WISCONSIN: Gov. Scott Walker seeks to eliminate funding for a state energy research program. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

COAL: The $1 sale of an Upper Peninsula coal plant could come at a much higher cost for ratepayers, and Illinois officials are expected to announce a decision this week on a proposed coal mine. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Associated Press)

KEYSTONE XL: A pair of injunctions in Nebraska courts halt eminent domain proceedings for the Keystone XL pipeline. (Omaha World-Herald)

OIL AND GAS:
• An Ohio Supreme Court justice decries the role of industry money in state policy-making. (Columbus Dispatch)
• A Wisconsin company says its portable generator can cut down on natural gas flaring in Bakken oil fields. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
• The groups that run the FracFocus database pledge to make the site more accurate and easier to use. (EnergyWire)
• An Illinois natural gas pipeline could be converted to carry crude oil. (Carbondale Southern Illinoisan)

EPA: An Ohio coal company claims EPA carbon rules are already harming the industry, as coal groups launch a PR offensive against the plan. (The Hill, Greenwire)

ETHANOL: Small, older plans struggle to compete as ethanol production scales up. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

NUCLEAR: Federal regulators will increase oversight of a Michigan nuclear plant following safety violations. (MLive)

SOLAR: As a proposed solar array at the Ann Arbor airport stalls, nearby Ypsilanti says it has a site ready to go. (MLive)

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TRANSMISSION: Illinois opponents of a wind-energy transmission line say they’ve formed a legal entity to fight the project. (Jacksonville Journal-Courier)

COMMENTARY: Michigan’s efficiency program is working, “don’t screw it up.” (Lansing State Journal)

Illinois bill to help Exelon nuclear plants is revealed

NUCLEAR: Illinois lawmakers introduce a bill to help Exelon’s nuclear plants, which a consumer group says will cost ratepayers around $300 million a year. (Chicago Tribune)

SOLAR: A Missouri study, like others before it, finds net metering benefits all utility customers regardless of whether they have solar panels. (Midwest Energy News)

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MICHIGAN: Utilities say Michigan’s energy choice law complicates efforts to deal with a projected capacity shortfall (more on the shortfall here). (MLive, Midwest Energy News archive)

EPA: Gina McCarthy reminds Congress that there are tools to deal with reliability issues that may arise under the Clean Power Plan. (ClimateWire)

MORE SOLAR: A township board may pose a roadblock to plans for a solar array at Ann Arbor’s airport, and Google invests another $300 million in solar. (MLive, Bloomberg)

WISCONSIN: A new report finds clean energy companies in Wisconsin are pressing forward despite an unfavorable political climate in the state. (Madison Capital Times)

ETHANOL: A pair of U.S. Senators introduces a bill to repeal part of the Renewable Fuel Standard. (The Hill)

OIL AND GAS: The drilling slowdown starts to hit service companies in Ohio, and North Dakota lawmakers approve a revised bill to send funding to Oil Patch communities. (Canton Repository, Bismarck Tribune)

COAL: North Dakota’s coal production increased 4 percent last year. (Associated Press)

UTILITIES: Despite low turnout at public meetings, Wisconsin regulators are getting a lot of feedback on the proposed Wisconsin Energy/Integrys merger. (Green Bay Press-Gazette)

EFFICIENCY: Wisconsin companies are recognized for their energy efficiency work. (Appleton Post-Crescent)

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CLIMATE: Sen. James Inhofe attempts to disprove climate science by throwing a snowball on the Senate floor and proclaiming “it’s very, very cold out.” (The Hill)

COMMENTARY: Why Republican candidates shouldn’t mock clean energy in 2016. (New Republic)

Ohio regulators reject ‘bailout’ for utility’s coal plants

OHIO: Ohio regulators reject a utility’s plan to guarantee income for its power plants, saying the proposal would not benefit ratepayers. (Columbus Dispatch)

NUCLEAR: Illinois legislators are expected to introduce a bill calling for a low-carbon energy standard to help support Exelon’s nuclear plants. (EnergyWire)

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EPA: The cross-state pollution rule may still be vulnerable to legal challenge, and state that reject the Clean Power Plan could end up with higher rates. (Greenwire, InsideClimate News)

SOLAR: Officials in Sioux Falls reject a proposed solar farm, a West Coast port dispute impacts a Michigan solar plant, and more solar manufacturers plan to own their own projects. (Sioux Falls Argus Leader, MLive, Bloomberg)

COAL: Peabody Energy cuts its forecast for U.S. coal demand, citing competition from natural gas, and North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp will introduce a bill calling for $10 billion to support “clean coal.” (SNL, Reuters)

EFFICIENCY: Missouri officials resolve a dispute over Ameren’s efficiency program, and Ohio State University expects to save millions by privatizing its energy infrastructure. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Columbus Business First)

OIL AND GAS: No resolution is in sight for the U.S. refinery strike after 25 days, and the impact of lower prices is yet to be seen on Ohio oil and gas output. (Reuters, Columbus Dispatch)

WIND: A wind developer fights a South Dakota county over installing meteorological towers to measure wind capacity in the area. (Associated Press)

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TRANSPORTATION: Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad signs a bill increasing the state’s gasoline tax 10 cents per gallon. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

COMMENTARY: What the Keystone XL debate says about the shift in U.S. energy politics. (Vox)

Exelon proposes bill surcharge to help Illinois nuclear plants

NUCLEAR: Exelon proposes a new utility bill surcharge for its Illinois power plants, as mayors of Illinois towns write letters to lawmakers encouraging them to support the plants. (Crain’s Chicago Business, Bloomington Pantagraph)

KEYSTONE XL: President Obama vetoes a bill that would have forced approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. (New York Times)

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COAL: Ohio utilities are taking different approaches to prepare for the Supreme Court’s ruling on EPA mercury rules. (Midwest Energy News)

KANSAS: State lawmakers will try again to repeal Kansas’ renewable energy standard; advocates say keeping the law in place will be key to meeting EPA carbon targets. (Midwest Energy News)

SOLAR: An Indiana anti-solar bill appears to be stalling in the legislature, and a proposed solar array in Carbondale, Illinois is criticized as “environmental racism.” (Indianapolis Star, Carbondale Southern Illinoisan)

OIL: North Dakota approves legislation to strengthen pipeline oversight, and a labor leader says more refinery workers could go on strike. (Forum News Service, Reuters)

ETHANOL: Low gasoline prices are wiping out ethanol profit margins, and 55,000 gallons of ethanol are still unaccounted for after a rail spill into the Mississippi River earlier this month. (Bloomberg, Associated Press)

UTILITIES: A Wisconsin utility hires a consultant to lead community meetings on its future direction. (Madison Capital Times)

GRID: Why a recent cold snap isn’t having as much impact on the grid as last year’s frigid winter. (Columbus Business First)

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CLIMATE: A closer look at Willie Soon’s climate misinformation. (InsideClimate News)

COMMENTARY: Seven predictions for the solar market in 2015. (Greentech Media)

Illinois utility funneled millions from ratepayers to politics

PETCOKE: Recent announcements don’t necessarily mean the end of petcoke in Chicago. (Midwest Energy News)

GRID: Advocates are pushing for Illinois utilities to adopt rates that will vary throughout the day depending on demand. (Midwest Energy News)

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UTILITIES: A newspaper investigation finds an Illinois utility has funneled millions of dollars from ratepayers to political organizations. (Chicago Tribune)

TECHNOLOGY: Business leaders, including Bill Gates and Jeffrey Immelt, call for the U.S. to invest more in energy research. (New York Times)

OIL AND GAS:
• A study finds most products refined from oil shipped via Keystone XL would remain in the United States. (The Hill)
• The U.S. is running out of places to store oil. (Bloomberg)
• Striking workers capture a flare-up at BP’s Whiting, Indiana refinery on video. (Times of Northwest Indiana)
• What role did political contributions play in Ohio’s Supreme Court ruling on local fracking oversight? (Columbus Dispatch)

MICHIGAN: What’s the future for distributed generation in Michigan? (Model D Media)

SOLAR: An appeal will be heard today on a proposed utility-scale solar project near Sioux Falls. (Sioux Falls Argus Leader)

WIND: A wind farm becomes the largest taxpayer in an Ohio county. (Van Wert Times Bulletin)

EPA: A manufacturers’ group says companies will move their operations overseas if the EPA regulates their carbon emissions. (Greenwire)

EFFICIENCY: The EPA tightens rules for determining fuel economy of cars. (New York Times)

OHIO: A recent PUCO appointment fuels speculation over the current chair’s future. (Columbus Business First)

TRANSMISSION: Illinois landowners appeal a decision approving a new transmission line. (Quad-City Times)

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MEDIA: Chicago Tribune energy reporter Julie Wernau is leaving for a new job at the Wall Street Journal. (Robert Feder)

COMMENTARY: Why we don’t need new innovations in energy storage. (Greentech Media)

Federal regulators order review of Michigan coal plant payments

MICHIGAN: Why a projected capacity shortfall in Michigan doesn’t necessarily mean major investments in generation are needed. (Midwest Energy News)

ALSO: Federal regulators order a review of how costs have been allocated to keep an Upper Peninsula coal plant online. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

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ILLINOIS: State lawmakers introduce a sweeping clean-energy bill that would resolve problems with the state’s renewable portfolio standard, establish a carbon market, and other provisions. (Midwest Energy News)

PETCOKE: A Koch-affiliated firm says it will remove petroleum coke piles from Chicago, advocates worry the material will be piled up in northwest Indiana instead. (Chicago Tribune, Times of Northwest Indiana)

OIL AND GAS:
• North Dakota lawmakers reject a bill that would have further restricted flaring of natural gas in the state’s oil fields. (Bismarck Tribune)
• It remains unclear whether the Bakken crude in a recent West Virginia train explosion had been treated to make it less volatile; investigators say the train was not speeding. (Reuters, New York Times)
• TransCanada proposes a new pipeline to carry North Dakota oil into Canada. (Associated Press)
• An Exxon subsidiary is fined $1.3 million for failing to comply with an audit request in North Dakota. (Associated Press)

SOLAR: An Iowa bill would allow solar customers to pass excess generation on to low-income ratepayers, and a Sioux City-area farmer gets into the solar business. (Midwest Energy News, KMEG)

NEWSMAKERS: FirstEnergy’s new CEO lays out plans for the future, and the CEO of the PJM Interconnection will retire at the end of this year. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, Pittsburgh Business Times)

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ELECTRIC CARS: More utilities are getting into the EV charging business. (New York Times)

COMMENTARY: ALEC’s latest attack on the Clean Power Plan is fizzling. (NRDC Switchboard)

After long fight, BP to end petcoke shipments into Chicago

PETCOKE: BP says it will stop shipments of petroleum coke from its Whiting refinery into Chicago, but won’t specify where the material will go instead. (Chicago Tribune)

COAL: A Wisconsin utility reaches an agreement that will end subsidy payments for a coal plant in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. (Midwest Energy News)

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SOLAR: In a debate that echoed a similar fight in Wisconsin, an Indiana House committee advanced a utility-backed bill that would increase fixed rates and impose other restrictions on solar power. Only one person, the head of a utility organization, testified in full support of the legislation. (Midwest Energy News, Indianapolis Star)

ALSO: Officials in Lincoln, Nebraska approve a zoning change to allow a new solar farm at the city’s airport. (Lincoln Journal Star)

OIL: Advocates say North Dakota isn’t doing enough to prevent oil train disasters, and federal regulators allow damaged rail cars to be transported to repair facilities while still carrying hazardous materials. (Bismarck Tribune, EnergyWire)

UTILITIES: Dynegy fights an effort by American Electric Power to guarantee income for its power plants, and the CEO of FirstEnergy says energy markets are to blame for its underperforming power plants. (Columbus Business First, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

MICHIGAN: Michigan’s largest utility says it has plenty of capacity despite a projected shortfall. (PennEnergy)

FRAC SAND: Commissioners in a Minnesota county vote to prohibit industrial frac sand mining. (Houston County News)

EFFICIENCY: A study finds broad support for state-funded energy efficiency programs in North Dakota, EnergyStar-rated clothes dryers hit the market, and Wisconsin’s efficiency program targets breweries. (KXNews, Associated Press, WMTV)

NUCLEAR: A Michigan regulator says the EPA “clearly missed the mark” in how it handles nuclear energy in proposed carbon regulations. (Greenwire)

CLIMATE: Some state utility regulators are still “not sure” about climate change. (ClimateWire)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join Wind on the Wires March 19 for the “Energizing the Future” gala featuring former FERC Chair Jon Wellinghoff & former Congressman Bob Inglis. Reduced rates for NGOs.***

WIND: A Minnesota man could go to jail in dispute over a wind turbine in his yard. (KSTP)

COMMENTARY: The utility industry is “angling hard to rig the game to its enormous advantage,” and are conservatives turning a corner on climate change? (IEEFA, Midwest Energy News)

Ohio Supreme Court rejects local fracking bans

FRACKING: Ohio’s Supreme Court rejects local fracking bans, saying only the state can regulate drilling. (Columbus Dispatch)

NUCLEAR: Exelon says it expects a bill to help its Illinois nuclear plants to be introduced next month. (EnergyWire)

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EPA: Grid operators say they want more time to implement the Clean Power Plan, and coal-dependent states pursue legal challenges to carbon regulation and push for lower targets. (EnergyWire, InsideClimate News, SNL)

PETCOKE: Chicago officials deny a company’s request for more time to enclose petroleum coke piles. (Chicago Sun-Times)

OIL:
• An oil train continues to burn in West Virginia and could pose a threat to Cincinnati’s water supply. (MetroNews, WCPO)
• The train consisted of modern tanker cars that the rail industry regards as safe. (Wall Street Journal)
• The spill renews calls for tougher regulation of oil trains. (The Hill)
• North Dakota regulators are downplaying oil spills; three recent spills were reported this week. (Inside Energy, UPI)
• A refinery strike has had little impact on gasoline prices. (Associated Press)

SOLAR: A survey finds solar jobs have doubled in Minnesota in the last year. (KSTP)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join Wind on the Wires March 19 for the “Energizing the Future” gala featuring former FERC Chair Jon Wellinghoff & former Congressman Bob Inglis. Reduced rates for NGOs.***

ELECTRIC CARS: The Sierra Club and Americans for Prosperity team up to support Tesla’s sales model. (The Hill)

COMMENTARY: A Wisconsin utility pushes ahead with a new power plant despite a glut of capacity, why fixed charges aren’t a solution to utilities’ solar challenges, and an Indiana lawmaker stands to profit from his anti-solar bill. (Midwest Energy News, Utility Dive, CleanTechnica)