EPA: ‘You may see adjustments’ in proposed carbon rules

OHIO: Advocates say FirstEnergy’s efficiency cuts are part of a larger pattern of being overly focused on short-term financial gain. (Midwest Energy News)

ALSO: An Ohio lawmaker says the state’s energy law study committee is “nothing more than a sham,” and state regulators miss a deadline for a decision on an American Electric Power proposal that would in part guarantee income from one of its coal plants. (Columbus Dispatch)

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CLIMATE: EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says “you may see adjustments” in proposed carbon rules before they are finalized next year, and big businesses raise their profile in the push for action on climate change. (SNL, InsideClimate News)

SOLAR: Minnesota regulators delay a decision on a major solar project, a Wisconsin homebuilder will make all of its new homes solar-compatible, and a Wisconsin county considers a landfill cap that would generate solar energy, (Rochester Post-Bulletin, BizTimes, Wisconsin State Journal)

FRACKING: An Ohio lawmaker says revenue from a fracking tax could be used to fight algae blooms on Lake Erie, and drillers in Pennsylvania are using less water. (Columbus Business First, Associated Press)

OIL: More than 80,000 people attend a rural Nebraska concert headlined by Neil Young and Willie Nelson to protest the Keystone XL pipeline, the oil boom brings prosperity and problems to a North Dakota reservation. (Omaha World-Herald, Washington Post)

CARBON CAPTURE: The EPA approves a second carbon capture site at an Illinois ethanol plant. (Decatur Herald-Review)

UTILITIES: A Michigan co-op challenges a FERC ruling requiring it to pay more to keep an Upper Peninsula coal plant operating. (Electric Co-op Today)

POLITICS: Farmers raise concerns about climate change in Iowa’s Senate race, and energy issues play a prominent role in a Michigan Senate race. (Cedar Rapids Gazette, Detroit News)

EFFICIENCY: Advocates say Wisconsin officials are violating state law by not updating energy efficiency codes for buildings. (Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism)

COAL: A new memorial honors a fallen miner in southern Illinois, schools struggle as families leave coal country, and songwriter Jimmy Rose will open this year’s Lignite Energy Council meeting in North Dakota with his song “Coal Keeps the Lights On.” (Carbondale Southern Illinoisan, Associated Press, 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.***

MISSOURI: Gov. Jay Nixon announces a group of more than 50 business and energy leaders that will help develop the state’s energy policy. (Associated Press)

COMMENTARY: On climate, “the real momentum is coming from local political leaders.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

 

Report highlights health risks of frac sand mining

EFFICIENCY: A pair of Iowa studies finds small towns can save millions on energy costs through aggressive efficiency efforts and renewable energy. (Midwest Energy News)

FRACKING: A GAO report singles out Ohio for being the only state that doesn’t require disclosure of chemicals disposed in wastewater injection wells. (EcoWatch)

***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’ ***

FRAC SAND: A new report, focusing primarily on Wisconsin and Minnesota, finds frac sand mining poses health and economic risks to nearby communities. (International Business Times)

UTILITIES: Wisconsin industrial groups want regulators to take more time deciding whether to approve Wisconsin Energy’s proposed acquisition of Integrys, and developers of a proposed natural gas plant withdraw their proposal after controversy in an Illinois town. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, CBS Chicago)

SOLAR:
• A group of solar installers requests a ruling from the IRS on tax implications for value-of-solar tariffs. (Greentech Media)
• A Wisconsin town, motivated in part by opposition to transmission lines, explores a community solar program. (La Crosse Tribune)
• Officials at a Lincoln, Nebraska utility say they’re surprised by the low rate of participation in their community solar effort. (Lincoln Journal Star)
• A new maintenance facility at Madison’s airport includes a 100 kW solar array. (Wisconsin State Journal)

COAL: An industry expert says market conditions, not environmental regulations, are having the hardest impact on the coal industry. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

NUCLEAR: Exelon says the EPA’s “at risk” designation for nuclear plants doesn’t help it financially. (EnergyWire)

OIL: An industry group releases new classification standards for shipping crude by rail, a North Dakota lawmaker says Gen. David Petraeus compared the Oil Patch to a war zone, and a union official criticizes delays to a proposed Minnesota pipeline. (Associated Press, Forum News Service)

GRID: PJM Interconnection says it’s modifying a grid reliability plan after comments from utilities and other groups. (Columbus Business First)

ETHANOL: An ethanol plant co-located with the Spiritwood coal plant in North Dakota will receive a $1 million federal loan. (Forum News Service)

***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: Ohio’s energy laws are “being rolled back by a cabal of special interests and lawmakers who appear motivated more by ideology than common sense.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

CORRECTION: An item in yesterday’s digest misidentified the gender of Wisconsin Rep. Chris Taylor. We apologize for the error.

South Dakota utility drops controversial solar rate plan

PETCOKE: A Chicago company says it’s ending its petroleum coke storage operations in the city rather than continue to fight legal and political pressure. (Chicago Tribune)

SOLAR:
• A South Dakota utility withdraws a proposed rate change that critics said would have targeted rooftop solar. (Rapid City Journal)
• Despite a depressed market for solar in the state, and Ohio solar project is proceeding. (Columbus Dispatch)
• Minnesota’s transportation department seeks proposals for solar arrays alongside highways. (Forum News Service)
• Why Wisconsin’s solar debate could have national implications. (Slate)
• Solar tours will be held in Ohio and Illinois next month. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, WIFR)

***SPONSORED LINK: On Oct.29, experts will converge on Madison, Wisconsin to discuss the energy, water and food challenges created by growing cities. Hosted by the Wisconsin Energy Institute. Register before Oct. 1 and save 20%.***

NUCLEAR: Exelon says it would cost around $580 million to keep its Illinois nuclear plants operating, and an Illinois lawmaker says “it’s difficult to move on energy policy” until Exelon makes clear what it wants from the state. (Crain’s Chicago Business, Forbes)

OIL: North Dakota officials consider a policy change that would prevent counties from holding elections on oil waste landfills, and a state health official says the industry needs to do more to prevent environmental damage. (Bismarck Tribune, Associated Press)

WIND: An EPA official says Iowa’s wind industry puts it ahead of other states in meeting proposed carbon goals. (Des Moines Register)

COAL: Local officials approve plans for expanded coal storage at a power plant near Milwaukee, and an Indiana mine is cited for safety violations. (Milwaukee Business Journal, Indiana Public Media)

FRACKING: An Ohio county says “penalties should be crippling” for companies that don’t disclose fracking chemicals. (Columbus Business Journal)

CLIMATE: A new study says over-reliance on natural gas can impede climate action, oil companies are preparing for carbon pricing, and analysts at a recent forum said they are optimistic the Clean Power Plan will succeed. (Climate Central, Yale E360)

POLITICS: An ALEC spokesman says Google left the group because of “misinformation from climate activists,” a Wisconsin lawmaker will share his her experiences from a recent ALEC gathering, and Rolling Stone dives deep on Koch Industries’ political and environmental history. (The Hill, Madison Capital Times, Rolling Stone)

GRID: A Chicago symposium discusses the potential of miniature combined heat and power plants as a backup system for solar. (Forbes)

MEDIA: A spokesman for Indiana Rep. Larry Bucshon is not amused about the congressman being lampooned a recent “Daily Show” segment on climate change denial. (WTHI)

COMMENTARY: Why Michigan shouldn’t rely solely on utilities to guide its energy future, and Ohio’s energy law study so far is stacked in favor of opponents(Metromode, The Equation)

Ohio utility to let big customers opt out of efficiency program

EFFICIENCY: FirstEnergy will let its industrial customers opt out of its efficiency program, a change allowed by Ohio’s recent energy law “freeze.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

ALSO: Indiana lawmakers defend repealing the state’s efficiency program, despite a new report showing $3 in benefits for every $1 spent. (Indiana Public Media)

***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’ ***

TRANSPORTATION: Despite its automotive legacy, Michigan is behind other Midwest states in establishing a better market for electric and other alternative-fuel vehicles, according to a new report. (Midwest Energy News)

WIND: A proposed wind and energy storage project in Wyoming and Utah is touted as the “21st Century Hoover Dam.” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

CLIMATE:
Private companies lead the way on climate action. (New York Times)
• Facebook plans to leave ALEC. (The Guardian)
• President Obama’s climate announcement lacks specifics. (Politico)
• Global business leaders back a carbon price. (ClimateWire)
• The U.S. Chamber says EPA climate rules will be ineffective. (Pittsburgh Business Times)

COAL: Consumer groups say a Wisconsin utility is overcharging customers for its power plant in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and another Illinois city calls for investigation of the Prairie State Energy Campus. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Chicago Daily Herald)

ILLINOIS: Advocates push for more nuclear and renewable energy at a state hearing on meeting EPA carbon limits. (Associated Press)

OIL AND GAS:
• A North Dakota tribal election could have an impact on oil production. (Bismarck Tribune)
• Natural gas bills are expected to go up in part due to competition from power plants. (Columbus Business First)
• Enbridge lays the last leg of its replacement Line 6B pipeline in Michigan. (Michigan Radio)
• Minnesota’s governor calls for additional oil train safeguards. (Forum News Service)
• Industry officials tell North Dakota regulators that Bakken crude doesn’t pose an unusual safety risk. (Bismarck Tribune)

NUCLEAR: Resolutions in both the U.S. House and Senate oppose a proposed Canadian nuclear waste facility on Lake Huron. (Southgate News-Herald)

SOLAR: Officials in Rochester, Minnesota consider requiring future solar compatibility in an upcoming civic center remodel, and picnic tables with solar-powered phone chargers debut in Lansing, Michigan. (Rochester Post-Bulletin, MLive)

***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: In an update to state lawmakers, a Purdue University expert says Indiana has increased its use of renewable energy but still lags behind other states. (Statehouse File)

COMMENTARY: The Daily Show takes on climate deniers in Congress, why utilities shouldn’t limit energy choice, and is the climate movement too focused on fracking? (Comedy Central, Green Bay Press-Gazette, Council on Foreign Relations)

Major energy storage project in the works near Chicago

CLIMATE: President Obama will announce new climate initiatives today at a UN summit today. (CNN)

ALSO:
• Scientists warn that by 2030, global CO2 will reach a level ensuring a 2 degree temperature rise. (ClimateWire)
• Treasury Secretary Jack Lew says climate change will have broad economic impacts. (The Hill)
• Google drops support for ALEC over the organization’s climate change politics. (The Hill)
• Ikea, Mars and other major corporations pledge to run on 100 percent renewable power by the end of the decade. (International Business Times)
• An international climate summit will be held in Minneapolis in 2015. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

***SPONSORED LINK: On Oct.29, experts will converge on Madison, Wisconsin to discuss the energy, water and food challenges created by growing cities. Hosted by the Wisconsin Energy Institute. Register before Oct. 1 and save 20%.***

EFFICIENCY: A unique Minnesota data project gives cities a more detailed picture of their energy use, USDA grants will help rural businesses cut energy use, and green building catches on in Detroit. (Midwest Energy News, Des Moines Register, Model D Media)

ENERGY STORAGE: Three battery storage projects near Chicago with a combined capacity of 60 MW — the largest project of its kind in North America — are expected to go online this spring. (Chicago Tribune)

COAL: Murray Energy’s CEO blames “the insane, regal administration of King Obama” for coal industry struggles, and We Energies plans to spend $62 million expanding coal storage capacity at a power plant near Milwaukee. (Columbus Dispatch, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

SOLAR: Local officials approve a 10 MW solar project near Sioux Falls, and Des Moines plans to cut red tape for solar installers. (Sioux Falls Argus Leader, Des Moines Register)

OIL AND GAS: The GAO says oil and gas production is outpacing infrastructure and regulation, and legal experts say North Dakota’s constitution prevents that state’s residents from getting Alaska-style dividend checks for oil production. (Columbus Business First, Forum News Service)

WIND: Developers of a proposed Missouri wind farm will look for another location to avoid conflicts with nearby wildlife areas. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

GRID: American Electric Power defends its $31/month fee for customers who refuse smart meters. (Columbus Business First)

DIVESTMENT: The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, build on the Standard Oil empire, will divest from fossil fuels; and National Journal looks at the broader impact of divestment strategies. (New York Times, National Journal)

PROPANE: Michigan’s attorney general sues a propane dealer over alleged price-gouging. (Associated Press)

COMMENTARY: Why local policymakers need to pay attention to global climate protests. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

More than 300,000 march for climate action in New York

CLIMATE: More than 300,000 people march in New York and elsewhere to demand action on climate change, the same day a new report finds U.S. carbon emissions are rising again after falling for several years. (New York Times)

ALSO: The march was largely ignored by television news yesterday; protests are expected to continue on Wall Street today. (Media Matters, Reuters)

***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: Dynegy’s plan to make its newly acquired Illinois coal plants profitable by switching grid operators will cost ratepayers millions with little, if any, improvement in reliability, according to a recent analysis. (Midwest Energy News)

SOLAR:
• A study finds schools are saving millions by installing solar panels. (ClimateWire)
• Solar advocates say a South Dakota utility’s proposed rate change is intended to inhibit solar power. (Rapid City Journal)
• Minnesota reservation plans a 1 MW solar project. (Forum News Service)
• GTM Research ranks Minnesota among its top five states for solar innovation. (Greentech Media)

WIND: An Iowa Democrat co-sponsors a bill that would revive the production tax credit, among other measures; wind energy complicates the Kansas governor’s race; and a facility to service wind turbine gearboxes will open next year in St. Paul. (The Hill, Al Jazeera, Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal)

ETHANOL: The cellulosic ethanol industry still faces a great deal of uncertainty despite recent refinery openings, and earnings are stronger for ethanol producers thanks in part to lower corn prices. (New York Times, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

EFFICIENCY: An analysis suggests the PJM Interconnection has cost ratepayers more than $1.3 billion in recent years by overlooking energy efficiency. (CleanTechnica)

FRAC SAND: A Wisconsin groundwater ruling could have a major impact on future frac sand mining. (Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism)

NUCLEAR: A report finds dismantling a Kansas nuclear plant could cost as much as $1 billion. (Wichita Eagle)

OIL: A well failure spills 20 barrels of oil onto a North Dakota wheat field and wetland. (Associated Press)

***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.***

POLITICS: A poll finds energy policy is a low priority for voters. (Columbus Business First)

COMMENTARY: Why clean energy is essential to Ohio industries. (Columbus CEO)

Ohio GOP putting energy law opponents on study group

CLIMATE: A study by the Midwest’s grid operator says it will be more cost-effective for states to work together to cut carbon emissions, and White House officials acknowledge the limitations of the Clean Power Plan but say inaction is not an alternative. (EnergyWire, ClimateWire)

OHIO: A renewable energy supporter says the Ohio Senate is stacking the deck by appointing opponents of the state’s energy laws to a committee to study them. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

***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: Two U.S. Senators propose legislation to better protect miners suffering from black lung disease, a wildlife preserve is open to the public at a former North Dakota mining site, and an Ohio power plant is named among the dirtiest in the U.S. (ABC News, Bismarck Tribune, Columbus Business First)

EFFICIENCY: Proposed new standards for air conditioners could yield the most energy savings of any regulation to date. (The Hill)

SOLAR:
• A report finds school roofs could collectively add 5.4 gigawatts of solar capacity. (ThinkProgress)
• An Iowa county considers adding solar panels using the type of third-party arrangement recently OKed by the state Supreme Court. (Iowa City Press-Citizen)
• A Minnesota county approves new zoning rules for small solar projects. (Rochester Post-Bulletin)
• Why data analysis will be key for solar growth. (Greentech Media)

WIND: A new 112 megawatt wind farm in Michigan goes online, and Iowa State University gets a federal grant to study taller wind turbines. (ReNews, Iowa Environmental Focus)

OIL: Rail congestion could costs some farmers as much as $100,000 during this year’s harvest, and Enbridge officials discuss pipeline safety at a meeting in Minnesota. (WHO-TV, Brainerd Dispatch)

FRACKING: An industry economist says fracking has created “an entirely different vision of our energy future.” (MLive)

TRANSMISSION: Ohio regulators approve a plan to increase grid capacity to accommodate the shale boom. (Columbus Business First)

TRANSPORTATION: Ann Arbor officials say more people are using public electric vehicle chargers. (MLive)

***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.***

ACTIVISM: Minnesota faith communities are featured in Al Gore’s “Climate Reality” project, an an Indiana activist says climate action is a racial equality issue. (Midwest Energy News, Indianapolis Recorder)

COMMENTARY: Why Minnesota should control its energy future. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Minnesota faith groups featured in ‘Climate Reality’ project

As we highlighted in a story last month, faith-based organizations are becoming increasingly vocal and active in the clean-energy movement. While it’s a national phenomenon, our story focused on Minnesota churches installing solar power and taking other steps to reduce their energy impact.

Minnesota faith communities were in the spotlight again this week as part of the 24 Hours of Reality, a series of videos hosted by Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project:

The event featured stories about emerging clean-energy technologies and economic cases for climate action, as well as appeals from celebrities including Jason Mraz and Mark Ruffalo.

Interfaith Power and Light and its Minnesota counterpart were partner organizations for the event. Both are members of RE-AMP, which publishes Midwest Energy News.

 

Court rules Ohio wildlife area can be strip-mined for coal

SOLAR: As Ohio’s energy law freeze takes effect, the state’s solar market has already stalled. (Midwest Energy News)

ALSO: The White House announces plans to train 50,000 veterans to become solar installers, SolarCity says a new approach to commercial installations could increase output 20 to 50 percent, and Minnesota regulators kick off the state’s solar garden program(Associated Press, EnergyWire, Renewable+Law)

***SPONSORED LINK: On Oct.29, experts will converge on Madison, Wisconsin to discuss the energy, water and food challenges created by growing cities. Hosted by the Wisconsin Energy Institute. Register before Oct. 1 and save 20%.***

COAL: Ohio’s Supreme Court rules that parts of a state wildlife area can be strip-mined for coal. (Columbus Dispatch)

CLIMATE: At an event in Minneapolis, Chevron’s CEO speaks broadly about energy policy, and says “I understand the risks of climate change.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

FRACKING: An Illinois legislative panel says it needs more time to review proposed fracking rules, a study released earlier this week links earthquakes to wastewater injection wells, and advocates say a recent study supports tougher regulation to prevent water contamination. (Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg)

FRAC SAND: An environmental group is circulating a petition calling for Wisconsin officials to study the state’s frac sand industry. (Madison Capital Times)

UTILITIES: Clean-energy advocates gather in Madison to oppose Wisconsin utilities’ proposed rate structure changes. (The Isthmus)

TRANSPORTATION: A study finds electric cars are cheaper to insure than gasoline ones, and high-speed trains once intended for Wisconsin find a home in Michigan. (Los Angeles Times, Madison Capital Times)

TRANSMISSION: Federal officials sign off on a new transmission line to serve load in North Dakota’s oil patch. (Transmission & Distribution World)

OIL: Enbridge conducts an oil spill emergency drill in Michigan. (MLive)

COMMENTARY: Why we shouldn’t place too much hope in technological breakthroughs. (Grist)

Michigan utility plans $2 billion worth of coal plant upgrades

EPA: Michigan utility Consumers Energy will spend $2 billion upgrading coal plants in a settlement over Clean Air Act violations. (Detroit Free Press)

ALSO: The EPA extends the comment period on proposed carbon rules, and an American Electric Power official says the Clean Power Plan is “just not going to happen.” (Associated Press, Columbus Business First)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join Schulmberger, 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’ ***

POLLUTION: The National Nurses United union is becoming increasingly involved in fights over pollution, which members say they can directly see impacting their patients. (Midwest Energy News)

COAL: A federal study finds black lung disease is making a comeback in mining country. (Wall Street Journal)

OHIO: The Ohio Senate names five more members of the committee to study the state’s clean-energy laws. (Columbus Business First)

UTILITIES: Major Ohio utilities manufacturers say they won’t pay FirstEnergy’s surcharge for cold weather last winter, and FirstEnergy installs fences and cameras at substations to deter metal thieves. (Columbus Business First, Toledo Blade)

SOLAR: The Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity backs Wisconsin utilities’ proposed rate structure changes as a Tea Party activist tours the state promoting solar power. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

WASTE-TO-ENERGY: Officials in Toledo consider closing the city’s methane cogeneration plant, which is costing the city $1 million a year to operate. (Toledo Blade)

ELECTRIC CARS: In an update to a 2012 report, the Union of Concerned Scientists says more renewable energy on the grid means electric cars are now cleaner than hybrids in most of the country. (New York Times)

NATURAL GAS: A leak in a natural gas pipeline forces evacuations in Michigan. (MLive)

CLIMATE: A study finds climate action can spur economic growth. (Reuters)

ETHANOL: Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says he expects the White House to restore cuts to federal biofuel mandates. (Des Moines Register)

TRANSMISSION: The Sierra Club endorses the Grain Belt Express transmission project; regulatory hearings in Missouri are scheduled for November. (Columbia 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: Could a “minimum bill” resolve utility conflicts over net metering? (The Energy Collective)

CORRECTION: Two items in yesterday’s digest on Ohio wind farm delays should have been credited to Columbus Business First, not the Columbus Dispatch.