Records show Ohio parks, forests vulnerable to drilling

OHIO: Records show that thousands of acres of state parks and forests in Ohio could be opened up to mining and drilling. (Columbus Dispatch)

MICHIGAN: Michigan’s U.S. Senators call on federal regulators to delay a rate increase to keep an Upper Peninsula power plant running (more background information here). (Associated Press)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join Schlumberger, CN Rail & many more at the 2nd Annual Frac Sand Logistics & Market Forecast Summit USA as they find practical solutions for overcoming rail, storage and transloading bottlenecks. Midwest Energy News readers save 15% with code ‘FRSMEN15’ ***

WIND: An Iowa engineer says switching from steel to concrete is the solution for taller wind turbines, and a bill in Michigan would add wind farms to the state’s Right to Farm Act. (Midwest Energy News, Michigan Capitol Confidential)

WISCONSIN: Recent changes in state law limit the public’s ability to comment on frac sand mining an other developments. (Madison Capital Times)

COAL: A Wisconsin man sues We Energies, alleging health impacts from a Milwaukee-area coal plant; and Midwest power plants continue to face low coal supplies as winter approaches. (Racine Journal Times, Energywire)

SOLAR: SolarCity’s CEO says “there is no cost” to solar power for homeowners, and a Lincoln, Nebraska utility says it will finalize its community solar plans in December. (InsideClimate News, Lincoln Journal Star)

OIL: A wellhead failure in North Dakota leaks hundreds of barrels of oil and brine; as of Friday workers were still trying to contain it. (Associated Press)

NUCLEAR: The nuclear industry weighs keeping reactors online for as long as 80 years. (New York Times)

BIOFUELS: Biofuel producers look for markets beyond motor fuels. (New York Times)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join top executives from the area’s RTOs, utilities, transmission developers, and state regulatory agencies at EUCI’s Transmission Expansion in the Midwest, Nov. 4-5 in Indianapolis.***

EPA: Advocacy and industry groups say renewable energy should play a stronger role in EPA carbon reduction plans. (Greentech Media)

COMMENTARY: Don’t overestimate the value of energy storage. (Greentech Media)

Ohio regulators confirm in-state renewable requirement dead

PETCOKE: Chicago residents are concerned petcoke is being piled on barges to avoid city regulations, a Coast Guard official says “it’s impossible to tell” how many barges are being used to store the material. (Midwest Energy News)

UTILITIES: After a contentious fight over municipalization, Minneapolis is expected to finalize a historic agreement today with two utilities to cut carbon emissions. (Midwest Energy News)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join Schlumberger, CN Rail & many more at the 2nd Annual Frac Sand Logistics & Market Forecast Summit USA as they find practical solutions for overcoming rail, storage and transloading bottlenecks. Midwest Energy News readers save 15% with code ‘FRSMEN15’ ***

OHIO: State regulators confirm that a requirement that power companies get half of their renewable energy from in-state sources was eliminated by SB 310. (Columbus Business First)

FRAC SAND: Preliminary data from Minnesota shows dust from frac sand trucks doesn’t pose a health threat. (InsideClimate News)

WIND: Developers put a Nebraska wind project on hold, and the Minnesota inventor of a bladeless wind turbine plans to test the technology in Hawaii. (Lincoln Journal Star, Pacific Business News)

POLITICS: A Kansas candidate poses a serious challenge to Sen. Pat Roberts, but it’s unclear where he stands on energy issues, and political groups move on from Keystone XL. (Greenwire, Politico)

ETHANOL: Operations begin at a cellulosic biofuel plant in Kansas. (Bloomberg)

ELECTRIC CARS: Michigan lawmakers approve a bill blocking Tesla’s direct-sales model. (Bloomberg)

SOLAR: An Indiana utility files a proposal to expand its voluntary feed-in tariff. (Solar Industry)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join top executives from the area’s RTOs, utilities, transmission developers, and state regulatory agencies at EUCI’s Transmission Expansion in the Midwest, Nov. 4-5 in Indianapolis.***

EFFICIENCY: The Wisconsin Green Building Alliance recognizes the state’s greenest projects. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

COMMENTARY: Why keeping existing nuclear plants online can help advance renewable energy, and FirstEnergy should embrace the future before seeking “bailouts” for power plants. (Forbes, Crain’s Cleveland Business)

New study says natural gas won’t slow climate change

SOLAR: A new report finds retailers are still leading the way on commercial solar, and Midwest companies and states are seeing a larger piece of the action. (Midwest Energy News)

ALSO: The utility serving Madison, Wisconsin is opposing city officials’ efforts to install more solar power, and Topeka’s VA hospital begins work on a $2.7 million solar project. (The Isthmus, Topeka Capital-Journal)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join us at the Wisconsin Energy Institute: “Global Energy Outlook” on Oct. 29 as we bring together experts from around the world to discuss the energy, water and food challenges presented by growing urban environments.***

NATURAL GAS: A new study says natural gas development won’t slow climate change. (Associated Press)

FRACKING: Southern Illinois landowners sue state officials over delays to fracking permits. (Chicago Tribune)

FRAC SAND: Wisconsin officials reject a town’s attempted “balloon on a string” land acquisition to bring a frac sand mine within its city limits and escape county regulation. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

OIL: North Dakota oil production continues to climb, with natural gas flaring exceeding a state benchmark. (Bismarck Tribune)

COAL: Xcel Energy says it will stop burning coal at a Twin Cities-area power plant in April. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

MINNESOTA: A delegation from Germany travels to Morris, Minnesota to study its renewable energy facilities, and a Minneapolis neighborhood pursues its own renewable energy options. (Morris Sun Tribune, Minnesota Daily)

UTILITIES: A court rules that a Michigan utility is not liable for a 2009 fire and explosion at an oil facility. (MLive)

CLIMATE: The U.S. climate envoy says denying climate science is quickly becoming a political liability, and Exxon says the divestment movement is “out of step with reality.” (InsideClimate News, National Journal)

PIPELINES: A Michigan Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate will stand trial for protesting Enbridge pipeline construction, environmental groups submit petitions to Iowa’s governor calling on him to reject a proposed pipeline, and the natural gas boom is big business for a Wisconsin pipe company. (Battle Creek Enquirer, Cedar Rapids Gazette, Appleton Post-Crescent)

***SPONSORED LINK: Attend the Energy Liberty Forum Monday, Oct. 20,  at 7 p.m. in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. Speakers include Tea Party co-founder Debbie Dooley, state Rep. Bob Kulp, and former state Rep. Mark Honadel.***

OHIO: The Atlantic revisits what’s left of an Ohio town that a utility bought out in 2002 rather than address pollution concerns.

COMMENTARY: A spokesman for Wisconsin utilities says conservation and energy efficiency are partially to blame for utilities’ need to create a “new approach to recovering fixed costs,” and fighting climate change is an economic opportunity in Minnesota. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Illinois lawmakers delay decision on fracking rules

FRACKING: Illinois lawmakers delay a decision on fracking rules until November; the state’s DNR says no drilling can take place without a court order. (Chicago Tribune)

ALSO: A study finds fracking is to blame for hundreds of small, unnoticeable earthquakes in Ohio. (Associated Press)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join Schlumberger, CN Rail & many more at the 2nd Annual Frac Sand Logistics & Market Forecast Summit USA as they find practical solutions for overcoming rail, storage and transloading bottlenecks. Midwest Energy News readers save 15% with code ‘FRSMEN15’ ***

COAL: A Sierra Club Ohio pollution complaint is unrelated to American Electric Power’s “bailout” plan for older coal plants, with the latter posing a PR challenge for the utility. (Midwest Energy News, Columbus Business First)

SOLAR: American Electric Power is challenging a provision in Ohio’s net metering policy that it says requires it to unfairly reimburse customers of competing providers, and how a Minnesota co-op overcame financial hurdles to launch a community solar project. (EnergyWire, Electric Co-op Today)

MORE FRACKING:
Demand is soaring for frac sand, which may become a weak link in the logistics chain. (McClatchy)
• Officials in a Wisconsin county say they cited the wrong company for frac sand mining violations. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
• Fracking supporters rally in southern Illinois. (Carbondale Southern Illinoisan)
• Minnesota officials are seeking public input on frac sand air quality rules. (Winona Daily News)

EFFICIENCY: LED streetlights are paying off for a St. Paul suburb, and an awards event tonight will recognize energy-efficient buildings in Chicago. (Minneapolis Star Tribune, NRDC Switchboard)

NATURAL GAS: How Michigan residents forced a natural gas pipeline realignment, and a new plant goes online in North Dakota to capture natural gas from oil fields. (InsideClimate News, Bismarck Tribune)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join top executives from the area’s RTOs, utilities, transmission developers, and state regulatory agencies at EUCI’s Transmission Expansion in the Midwest, Nov. 4-5 in Indianapolis.***

WIND: A study finds bats may confuse wind turbines for trees. (MinnPost)

COMMENTARY: Are utilities pushing communities of color away from solar? (Grist)

Pentagon warns climate change is a global security threat

COAL: A report finds FirstEnergy’s focus on coal “has not been a winning strategy.” (Midwest Energy News)

ALSO: Advocate Jeff Biggers says southern Illinois can transition to a clean energy economy. (Carbondale Southern Illinoisan)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join us at the Wisconsin Energy Institute: “Global Energy Outlook” on Oct. 29 as we bring together experts from around the world to discuss the energy, water and food challenges presented by growing urban environments.***

CLIMATE:
• The Pentagon warns that climate change is a global security threat. (New York Times)
• The winner of a 2014 Nobel Prize for economics argues for carbon caps. (Greenwire)
• Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan says he’s still skeptical about climate change. (Associated Press)
• Minnesota officials release a county-by-county breakdown of climate change impacts. (Minnesota Public Radio)

POLITICS: Joni Ernst, a candidate for Iowa’s U.S. Senate seat, says the EPA should be eliminated, and the “green conservative” movement continues to build. (Politico, PRI)

WISCONSIN: A new sustainability report says Wisconsin is making progress on biodigesters but falling behind on other renewable energy. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

BAKKEN: North Dakota officials announce plans for a $4 billion chemical plant to process natural gas byproducts, but it won’t be built in the Oil Patch. (Bismarck Tribune)

PIPELINES: A Minnesota town’s Chamber of Commerce calls on state regulators to speed up approval of the Sandpiper pipeline. (BusinessNorth)

BIOFUELS: Biofuel industry officials say EPA indecision on the renewable fuel mandate has “put us in suspended animation.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

SOLAR: A survey finds utilities can cut solar costs for customers by streamlining the interconnection process. (Greentech Media)

COMMENTARY:No credible analysis shows that freezing, weakening, or rolling back Ohio’s clean energy standards will save consumers money,” and “we should not blindly create policy” in Wisconsin. (Union of Concerned Scientists, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

MidAmerican announces $280 million Iowa wind expansion

MICHIGAN: Why some experts blame a 2008 regulatory exemption for the current energy crisis in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. (Midwest Energy News)

ALSO: A special section in the Detroit Free Press explores the energy future for the rest of the state.

***SPONSORED LINK: Join Schlumberger, CN Rail & many more at the 2nd Annual Frac Sand Logistics & Market Forecast Summit USA as they find practical solutions for overcoming rail, storage and transloading bottlenecks. Midwest Energy News readers save 15% with code ‘FRSMEN15’ ***

WIND: MidAmerican announces a $280 million wind energy expansion in Iowa. (Des Moines Register)

OHIO: All but three members of Ohio’s energy law study committee voted to “freeze” the states renewable energy and efficiency standards. (Columbus Business First)

OIL AND GAS: A refinery in Washington state will no longer accept North Dakota oil shipped in older tank cars, rail delays disrupt business in Wisconsin, and a report finds $3.5 billion in oil and gas investment in Ohio over the past six months. (Bellingham Herald, Wisconsin State Journal, Columbus Business First)

WISCONSIN: The Racine City Council passes a resolution opposing We Energies’ proposed rate changes, warning of “significant environmental and economic damage” by discouraging renewable energy. (Racine Journal Times)

SOLAR: A newspaper’s investigation finds a now-defunct solar firm misallocated state funds, and an Indiana cooperative launches a community solar project. (Toledo Blade, Crawfordsville Journal Review)

TRANSPORTATION: A Michigan EPA lab helps develop the fuel-efficient cars of the future. (ClimateWire)

EFFICIENCY: An Illinois weatherization program is falling short of its goals, and a Michigan brewery tries to further decrease its energy impact. (Better Government Association, MLive)

GRID: The shift to digital meters means big business for an Ohio company. (Columbus Dispatch)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join top executives from the area’s RTOs, utilities, transmission developers, and state regulatory agencies at EUCI’s Transmission Expansion in the Midwest, Nov. 4-5 in Indianapolis.***

CLIMATE: Iowa scientists warn climate changes impacts are already being felt in the state. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

COMMENTARY: A former Green Bay Packer says solar should be given a chance to compete, and the state’s largest newspaper says Wisconsin utilities are asking for too much at the wrong time. (Green Bay Press Gazette, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

In Madison, more protests of proposed utility solar plans

OHIO: The state Senate names the final members to the SB 310 study committee, the Sierra Club says Ohio utilities are “throwing spaghetti against the wall and trying to see what will stick” to keep coal plants viable, and FirstEnergy rejects a report claiming the utility is in a “financial spiral.” (Columbus Business First, Akron Beacon Journal)

GEOTHERMAL: A small Iowa town launches a geothermal district heating system, believed to be the first of its kind in the Midwest. (Midwest Energy News)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join Schlumberger, CN Rail & many more at the 2nd Annual Frac Sand Logistics & Market Forecast Summit USA as they find practical solutions for overcoming rail, storage and transloading bottlenecks. Midwest Energy News readers save 15% with code ‘FRSMEN15’ ***

WISCONSIN: At a hearing in Madison, up to 200 people protest another Wisconsin utility’s proposed rate structure changes that opponents say are intended to discourage solar power. (Wisconsin State Journal)

SOLAR: Amid the PV boom, solar thermal systems are often overlooked; and customers flock to the “made in Minnesota” solar program. (Midwest Energy News)

GRID: The PJM Interconnection tries to preserve demand response as an option in its capacity auctions. (EnergyWire)

OIL AND GAS: A report finds broad discrepancy between oil companies’ claims to investors about reserves and what they report to the SEC, Enbridge has finished cleanup of the Kalamazoo River from a 2010 pipeline spill, and a coalition of fracking supporters will meet next week in Illinois. (Bloomberg, MLive, Carbondale Southern Illinoisan)

COAL: Scientists say coal mining, not fracking, is to blame for a large methane hot spot revealed in satellite images; and comments on a proposed Illinois coal mine are mostly in opposition. (Bloomberg, Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette)

CLIMATE: Studies find shifting to clean energy could save the global economy trillions of dollars, and researchers find that fewer than half of U.S. states are preparing for climate change impacts. (InsideClimate News, McClatchy)

NUCLEAR: A nuclear industry lobbying group releases a report predicting millions of dollars in economic impact if Exelon’s nuclear plants shut down. (Quad-City Business Journal)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join top executives from the area’s RTOs, utilities, transmission developers, and state regulatory agencies at EUCI’s Transmission Expansion in the Midwest, Nov. 4-5 in Indianapolis.***

INDIANA: The Indiana Farm Bureau highlights the state’s renewable energy advances. (Indiana Public Media)

COMMENTARY: “The GOP’s incoherent climate shuck-and-jive is under pressure and the cracks are starting to show.” (Grist)

Ohio manufacturers split over energy law ‘freeze’

WISCONSIN: Hundreds turn out for a pair of public hearings in Milwaukee, mostly to oppose proposed We Energies rate changes that critics say target distributed renewable energy. (Midwest Energy News, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

ALSO: Critics say a 2009 We Energies study contradicts the utility’s own claims about fair solar costs. (Express Milwaukee)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join us at the Wisconsin Energy Institute: “Global Energy Outlook” on Oct. 29 as we bring together experts from around the world to discuss the energy, water and food challenges presented by growing urban environments.***

OHIO: Several large Ohio manufacturers form their own lobbying group, in part because of disagreement with the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association over its opposition to SB 310; and Fortune magazine takes a closer look at manufacturers’ role in the controversy. (Columbus Dispatch, Fortune)

COAL: The Sierra Club plans to sue over alleged pollution violations at an Ohio coal plant, why AEP’s plan to guarantee revenue for coal plants is drawing similar criticism to a FirstEnergy proposal, and can modern coal plants meet tougher pollution rules? (Columbus Business First, SNL)

SOLAR: A large solar installation company begins offering direct loans to homeowners. (Associated Press)

OIL AND GAS: Business groups fight a proposed North Dakota conservation measure, Ohio advocates call for disclosure of fracking chemicals, and Ohio University gets $1.45 million to research wastewater recycling. (Greenwire, Columbus Dispatch, Columbus Business First)

NUCLEAR: A Kansas nuclear plant may have to temporarily shut down if repairs to a backup generator aren’t completed in time. (Associated Press)

RENEWABLES: Why buying renewable power is a challenge for big data companies. (Greentech Media)

COMMENTARY: Why Wisconsin is falling behind on solar power. (Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism)

Judge dismisses Nebraska’s challenge to EPA carbon rules

MICHIGAN: Republican lawmakers introduce a bill to repeal the state’s renewable energy standard, despite broad public support for the policy. (Midwest Energy News)

CLIMATE: A federal judge dismisses Nebraska’s challenge to proposed EPA carbon rules, saying “the state has jumped the gun.” (SNL)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join Schlumberger, CN Rail & many more at the 2nd Annual Frac Sand Logistics & Market Forecast Summit USA as they find practical solutions for overcoming rail, storage and transloading bottlenecks. Midwest Energy News readers save 15% with code ‘FRSMEN15’ ***

EFFICIENCY: A neighborhood of Habitat homes in Wisconsin aims to achieve net zero status with the help of energy-monitoring tools, and a solar water heating system helps an Indiana school save $1,500 per month on energy costs. (Midwest Energy News, Associated Press)

SOLAR: Regulators will hold hearings today and tomorrow on Wisconsin utilities’ proposed rate changes. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

UTILITIES: Ohio’s Supreme Court rules customers who have switched to other energy providers still have to help pay for an American Electric Power shortfall, and why Dynegy is pushing for capacity market reform. (Columbus Dispatch, EnergyWire)

FRAC SAND: A Wisconsin county shuts down a frac sand mine that was “running wild,” dumping wastewater into an unlined pond. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

COAL: A stockpiles continue to draw down because of delivery disruptions, utilities burn more natural gas to preserve coal supplies. (Platts, Bloomberg)

POLLUTION: A new study finds that even accounting for the impact of raw materials, renewable energy technologies are still cleaner than fossil fuels. (Climate Central)

FRACKING: An industry group seeks to reinvent the term “fracking” with more positive connotations. (Wall Street Journal)

WIND: The wind industry is seeing significant growth in Kansas; and Milwaukee officials give a manufacturer more time to repay a loan, citing Wisconsin’s wind energy politics as a factor. (Wichita Eagle, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

TRANSPORTATION: A “Strong Towns” advocate visits his Minnesota hometown to push for walkable neighborhoods; more airlines experiment with biofuels; and in a publicity stunt for Hormel, a Minneapolis company builds a motorcycle powered by biofuel derived from bacon grease. (Minneapolis Star Tribune, New York Times, Fast Company)

TRANSMISSION: The Columbia, Missouri city council endorses the Grain Belt Express transmission line. (Columbia Daily Tribune)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join top executives from the area’s RTOs, utilities, transmission developers, and state regulatory agencies at EUCI’s Transmission Expansion in the Midwest, Nov. 4-5 in Indianapolis.***

COMMENTARY: Why FERC’s demand response rule may have been a victim of judicial activism. (Grist)

CORRECTION: Pablo Vegas is the president and COO of American Electric Power. An item in yesterday’s digest misidentified him as the CEO. 

Ohio utility exec: Protection needed from ‘roller coaster’

OHIO: Despite political setbacks, advocates still see multiple paths forward for clean energy in Ohio, albeit on a smaller scale. (Midwest Energy News)

ALSO: A new report says FirstEnergy is “wedded to a failed strategy of long-term dependence on coal-fired generation,” and American Electric Power’s CEO president says Ohio’s “roller coaster” energy market is prompting their push for revenue guarantees for coal plants. (IEEFA, Columbus Business First)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join us at the Wisconsin Energy Institute: “Global Energy Outlook” on Oct. 29 as we bring together experts from around the world to discuss the energy, water and food challenges presented by growing urban environments.***

UTILITIES:
• Following a push for a municipal utility, energy providers serving Minneapolis announce a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
• A shareholder vote is scheduled on the proposed Wisconsin Energy/Integrys merger. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
• Why Dynegy and NRG are making completely different bets on the future.
(EnergyWire)
• A Michigan town votes to end a tax break for a Consumers Energy power plant. (Holland Sentinel)

OIL: Occidental Petroleum is seeking to sell up to $3 billion in North Dakota oil assets. (Bloomberg)

SOLAR:
• A former Green Bay Packer will speak out for solar power at Wisconsin utility hearings this week. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
• A Michigan man’s solar installation fulfills a childhood dream. (MLive)
• Solar power catches on in Chicago’s Southeast Side. (WBEZ)
• Why big investors are still hesitant on solar power. (Greentech Media)

POLLUTION: A study finds EPA carbon rules would save thousands of lives in Missouri and Illinois. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

EFFICIENCY: Scientists who helped improve LED lighting win the Nobel Prize for physics. (Associated Press)

WIND: A wind project on a North Dakota reservation receives $90,000 in federal funds, and some neighbors of a proposed Nebraska wind farm raise concerns about the project. (Associated Press, Lincoln Journal Star)

COMMENTARY: Why solar is taking off at airports, and a grid operator attacks the Clean Power Plan. (ThinkProgress, NRDC Switchboard)

CORRECTION: It is Wisconsin Energy, not We Energies, that is proposing to merge with Integrys. An item in yesterday’s digest misidentified the Wisconsin company.