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)

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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)

• 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)

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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.

Study: Fracking not to blame for water contamination

READER SURVEY: Thank you for your feedback on this year’s reader survey! The results are posted here.

FRACKING: An Ohio State study finds that faulty well casings — not fracking — are responsible for water contamination near shale gas operations in Pennsylvania and Texas. (Columbus Dispatch)

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WASTE-TO-ENERGY: The market is improving for biodigesters in Minnesota and elsewhere, and construction is delayed at a waste-to-energy facility in Iowa. (Midwest Energy News, Cedar Rapids Gazette)

OIL: New pipeline projects mean the nation’s largest oil hub, in Cushing, Oklahoma, continues to grow; and Canadian environmental groups threaten legal action over Enbridge’s plan to increase oil sands flows into the U.S. (Tulsa World, Toronto Globe & Mail)

WIND: Developers of three more Ohio wind projects seek extensions on construction. (Columbus Dispatch Business First)

GRID: A court ruling on demand response could spike energy bills by 20% in Illinois. (Crain’s Chicago Business)

ALSO: How thousands of residential water heaters could serve as a “virtual power plant” to help manage the grid. (EnergyWire)

COAL: The Government Accountability Office increases its estimate for coal plant retirements by 2025. (The Hill)

FRAC SAND: A Texas company strikes it rich on Wisconsin silica sand, and a sand mining operation threatens Minnesota’s Renaissance Festival. (Wall Street Journal, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

PIPELINES: TransCanada applies for a new permit for Keystone XL in South Dakota, pipeline developers face opposition in North Dakota, and Michigan residents want more transparency about a proposed natural gas line. (Associated Press, Forum News Service, MLive)

***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%.***

TRANSPORTATION: Chicago becomes the first city in North America with an all-electric garbage truck. (CleanTechnica)

COMMENTARY: Energy efficiency investments are paying back $3-$4 for every dollar spent. (Christian Science Monitor)

Results from 2014 Midwest Energy News reader survey

Thanks again to everyone who took our reader survey this year. We had 302 responses, more than double last year’s participation.

The big picture: Not a lot has changed from the previous year. Our internal metrics show we’ve had strong readership growth in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio, and that’s reflected in the responses somewhat. Overall we got strong marks once again for accuracy, timeliness and overall quality.

The caveat – this is a self-selected survey group and not a scientific poll. It makes sense that regular readers who strongly value the service would be most likely to take the survey. But it’s good to know that we’re keeping our best customers happy, and you’ve also provided some useful constructive criticism for us going forward (I’ll address some specific comments later in the post).

We also eliminated questions about the format of the email digest (biggest complaint was how it displayed on mobile, which we’ve fixed by switching email providers). Instead we asked a couple of questions about how/when readers share news stories with colleagues, with some interesting results.

Below is a quick snapshot of the responses (numbers may not total 100% due to rounding); the full results are here, and you can compare to last year’s survey here. And as always, please feel free to contact me directly if you have additional feedback.


Like last year, most respondents were from the Midwest and had some connection with the energy industry. This year we saw a significantly higher response rate from Michigan and Indiana (2% each in 2013), while Ohio was much lower, down from 8% last year.

Minnesota: 27%
Illinois: 21%
Wisconsin: 12%
Michigan: 6%
Iowa: 5%
Indiana: 3%
Ohio: 3%
Washington DC: 3%

States with 2% response: Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, and Virginia; 1% or less: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington; as well as Canada and other countries outside the U.S.

By occupation, again the results are largely unchanged, although we saw a higher response rate from the government/regulatory sector (12% vs. 7% last year).

Policy/advocacy/NGO: 29%
Other: 19%
Other business related to the energy industry: 18%
Government or regulatory: 12%
Utility, co-op or other energy provider: 8%
Media/communications: 8%
Academia: 7%

Once again several of the responses to “other” could fit in other categories, but probably not enough to sway the results significantly.

Overall impressions, the ‘bias’ question

89% strongly agree or agree that Midwest Energy News is useful in their professional lives
91% strongly agree or agree that we are accurate
96% strongly agree or agree that we are timely
72% strongly agree or agree that we are fair and unbiased, 20% were neutral, only 5 respondents, or less than 2%, strongly disagreed

These numbers were stronger across the board compared to last year. Again, readers were a little more lukewarm on the question of bias, which is understandable since we’re published by an advocacy organization and make no effort to conceal that.

Diving deeper into the data gives us a bit of context for this. Out of the 304 respondents, 22 indicated they felt our coverage was biased, and 7 of those 22 provided additional comments:

• “Drop the blatant anti-oil/gas bias.” (reader in energy business, Montana)
• “Do more balanced articles talking about impacts of policies and how they impact standard of living, specifically the impacts to wholesale / retail power rates when displacing existing resources.” (government/regulatory, South Dakota)
• “More balanced view on climate change.” (energy business, Illinois)
• “I think MwEN has become more biased and agenda driven. Maybe some of that is editorial content on purpose, but this should be made clear.” (energy business, Wisconsin)
• “Provide balance in the articles. Currently only advocates for environmental and renewable issues.” (government/regulatory, Iowa)
• “MORE INDUSTRY VIEW POINTS LESS ADVOCATES.” (energy business, location unknown)
• “For articles about distributed generation, and renewables, include more viewpoints. RMI’s eLab, and the Critical Consumer Issues Forum are good examples.” (utility/co-op, Wisconsin)

To be clear, we don’t have any sort of editorial policy or directive guiding our coverage other than acknowledging the science of climate change and the need to address the problem (whereas some news organizations still feel a need to “balance” this with a non-scientific perspective). Balance, in and of itself, does not necessarily bring one closer in line with reality.

Apart from that, there’s a pattern in these responses of concern that we are not inclusive enough of industry points of view in our coverage. That’s a subjective thing and difficult to quantify — we do reach out to industry sources all the time — but we’ll try to be more mindful of this going forward.

As always, if you have a question/concern about a particular story or coverage decision please feel free to contact me directly.

Impressions of the daily email digest

87% strongly agree or agree that the daily email digest is useful in their professional lives
81% strongly agree or agree that it is comprehensive
70% strongly agree or agree that it is their primary source of regional energy news
83% strongly agree or agree that it is engaging to read

Again, these are strong results and comparable to last year.

Sharing news stories

83% have shared a MwEN story or daily digest with a professional colleague, or otherwise used our journalism directly in their work.

This is a new question this year and the response actually caught me by surprise. We know anecdotally that a lot of people use our coverage in their day-to-day work, it’s good to see such a large number.

Here are a handful of more specific responses:

• “We were working on PACE securitizations, and Midwest Energy News gathered several interesting stories on PACE developments.”
• “I work at a 25-person solar installation company and it is my responsibility to read the MEN each day and disseminate relevant articles internally.”
• “I share news clips from Midwest energy often because they are timely and current.”

Also, 47% said they use email to share news, while 17% use Facebook and 17% use Twitter.

Miscellaneous comments

I’ve read every one of the comments on the survey and we greatly appreciate the feedback. Here are responses to some selected comments:

“Do more _____.”

We’re a very small operation — there is one full-time employee (me) overseeing five part-time freelance reporters. But we’ve been growing steadily and are courting new funders all the time, and your participation in this survey will help us make the case for more resources.

“Make sure that linked articles are not part of subscriber only content. Sometimes when I click through to read a piece it takes me to a NYT or Wall St. Journal subscriber only page and then I am not able to read the article. Otherwise I very much enjoy the digest!”

As a rule all links in the email digest should be outside subscription paywalls. Typically the WSJ will have a “free preview” version of an article and we have a trick to make sure our link goes to that version. Anytime that’s not working please let us know.

The New York Times (and a lot of other papers) have a paywall that kicks in after you read a certain number of articles. That’s something on the user end that we can’t control.

“I would like to see a “weekly digest” option. I have a hard time keeping up with a daily digest, and I get SO MANY e-mails already. Thanks for your efforts!”

There were several suggestions for this – we’ll consider it.

“Develop other free, regional newsletters.”
“Replicate versions for other regions of the country (Northeast, Southeast, West).”

We’re actually working on a funding request for this very thing. Hoping for some good news later this fall…

“I’d love to see the digest by 8 a.m. consistently! That would be so awesome.”

The email digest is routed off of multiple servers and 8 a.m. turns out to be a very popular time to send mass emails, so receipt times vary quite a bit. Some mornings I’ve had it ready to go at 7:45 but didn’t see it in my inbox until closer to 8:30.

“It’s very good now, but some news is missed.”

There’s no question we miss stories once in a while. But we also try not to cover the same ground more than once, so a story you’re seeing today may have been in the digest a day or two ago from a different source. Either way, always feel free to contact me if there’s a story we’re overlooking.

“I can also tell you guys are clean energy supporters, but I see you are making a concerted effort to be fair and unbiased. Good stuff.”

“I love that in any article that Midwest Energy News writes, the author is very transparent and calls out exactly if and how the site owners may be associated with parties mentioned in the article. The transparency, openness, relevance, and objectivity are things I love about Midwest Energy News.”

“Can’t think of much to improve upon… it’s a great service and includes interesting articles. It’s somewhat obvious that, as a member of RE-AMP, you are more likely to cover stories (or choose commentary) with an angle that includes/supports other RE-AMP members and their positions, but there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that (and you do a good job in disclosing that).”

Just wanted to include these to balance the balance discussion from earlier.

“Keep up the good work!”

As with last year’s survey, this was by far the most common response. Thanks to all of you for reading, and for providing us with valuable feedback.


Kasich vows to continue pursuing increased drilling tax

AGRICULTURE: Experts say an aging electrical grid is holding back investments in Michigan’s agriculture industry. (Midwest Energy News)

ALSO: Falling prices for LED bulbs make them an increasingly popular option for hog barns. (Midwest Energy News)

***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’ ***

FRACKING: Ohio Gov. John Kasich says he will continue to push for a higher drilling tax if re-elected, and fracking is expected to boost the plastics industry. (Columbus Dispatch, Columbus Business First)

BAKKEN: North Dakota meets its first benchmark to cut natural gas flaring, state officials say the rules could slow oil production growth. (Bismarck Tribune, Bloomberg)

RAIL: Mayors of Chicago suburbs call for tighter federal regulations on oil trains. (Chicago Tribune)

OHIO: State Sen. Bill Seitz explains his opposition to renewable energy laws: “I care about utility rates.” (Columbus Business First)

UTILITIES: A Wisconsin utility’s real-time pricing program is saving manufacturers money. (Milwaukee Business Journal)

EFFICIENCY: New efficiency rules for refrigerators are expected to save consumers $36 billion on energy over the next 30 years. (The Hill)

CLIMATE: An expert at a recent Minnesota economic forum on climate policy says the actual cost of carbon emissions could be as high as $120 per ton. (ClimateWire)

GERMANY: What Germany’s renewable energy push means for utilities. (New York Times)

TECHNOLOGY: Milwaukee’s Energy Innovation Center aims to nurture new start-up companies. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

NATURAL GAS: An Indiana city signs off on a proposed new $800 million power plant. (Associated Press)

COMMENTARY: How the New York Times overstated the benefits of fracking in Ohio, and federal efficiency programs help Michigan farmers save thousands. (Huffington Post, NRDC Switchboard)

Ohio energy law’s loudest critic to sit on study committee

LAST CHANCE: Today is the last opportunity to take our reader survey. We’ll close the survey at 9 p.m. CDT tonight. Thanks to everyone for your feedback so far!

EFFICIENCY: How “ESP” is helping Kansas City become an innovation leader in energy efficiency. (Midwest Energy News)

***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’ ***

OHIO: State Sen. Bill Seitz, who has compared Ohio’s clean energy laws to Stalinism, will sit on the legislative committee to review their effectiveness; Cleveland emerges as a cleantech leader even as the state retreats on renewable energy; and a poll finds most Ohioans oppose a utility rate plan criticized as a “bailout” for old coal plants. (Columbus Business First, InsideClimate News, Public News Service)

COAL: A Minnesota utility will idle four coal-fired units because of rail shipping problems, and a keynote at the Illinois Mining Institute’s annual meeting says coal “is the most promising fuel of the future right now.” (KBJR, Carbondale Southern Illinoisan)

EPA: A group of utilities files a legal challenge to EPA cooling water rules, states that are suing to block EPA carbon rules are working to implement them anyway, and North Dakota expects significant challenges adapting to carbon limits. (SNL, Climate Central, Forum News Service)

PIPELINES: Minnesota regulators order further study of a proposed new pipeline from North Dakota, and Nebraska schools benefit from Keystone XL land arrangements. (Minneapolis Star Tribune, Lincoln Journal Star)

SOLAR: Missouri’s Supreme Court will hear arguments over whether a utility is exempt from the state’s solar standard, and a St. Louis company is selected to be the lead contractor for Chicago’s solar program. (EnergyWire, St. Louis Business Journal)

CLIMATE: Economists say the Midwest is ideal for a carbon market, and the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell says the debate over climate change “has gone into la-la land.” (Minnesota Public Radio, Washington Post)

UTILITIES: ComEd says it wants customers to control their energy data, and Wisconsin Energy faces criticism from industry over proposed rate increases. (Chicago Tribune, Milwaukee Business Journal)

POLITICS: Advocates brief Wisconsin candidates on renewable energy, and several city officials in a Chicago suburb resign amid controversy over a power plant plan. (Madison Capital Times, Chicago Daily Herald)

GRID: The FBI says an attack on a California substation wasn’t terrorism: “We don’t think this was a sophisticated attack.” (The Hill)

FRAC SAND: Three new frac sand mines are proposed in Wisconsin, one would be the largest in the U.S. at 2,000 acres. (Chippewa Herald)

COMMENTARY: How cost overruns at a Minnesota nuclear plant show the weaknesses of large-scale generation. (Institute for Local Self-Reliance)

Coast Guard official says Great Lakes not prepared for oil spill

NOTE TO READERS: Only two days left to take our reader survey. Thanks to everyone for your feedback so far!

WISCONSIN: A leading Tea Party activist will be in Wisconsin next week to advocate for solar power and other distributed renewable energy. (Midwest Energy News)

***SPONSORED LINK: Midwest Energy Policy Conference 2014 — Get the early-bird discount now for the Midwest Energy Policy Conference on Sep. 30-Oct. 1 in St. Louis!***

OIL: A Coast Guard commander says emergency responders are not prepared for a major oil spill in the Great Lakes, and Statoit is expanding a project to capture natural gas in North Dakota’s oil patch. (Detroit Free Press, Associated Press)

FRACKING: A Yale study finds people living near gas wells are twice as likely to experience respiratory and skin problems, a former Ohio steel mill will become a logistics hub for drilling operations, and industry groups will seek changes to Illinois’ proposed fracking regulations. (USA Today, Columbus Business First, Associated Press)

POLITICS: A former Murray Energy foreman sues the company, saying she was fired for not making political contributions to the CEO’s preferred candidates. (Charleston Gazette)

EPA: A letter from 15 Republican governors claims proposed EPA carbon restrictions would violate federal law, and a judge rules a former EPA official can’t testify on behalf of a utility in a Missouri pollution case. (The Hill)

COAL: Peabody Energy’s CEO explains how to improve coal’s image. (Wall Street Journal)

SOLAR: When accounting for small projects, new solar capacity outpaced natural gas in the first half of 2014; and a Cedar Rapids apartment building claims the largest multi-tenant solar project in the Midwest. (Greentech Media, KGAN)

NUCLEAR: Nuclear opponents call for a formal hearing over cracks in the concrete structure at Ohio’s Davis-Besse plant. (Toledo Blade)

BIOFUEL: The University of Iowa experiments with a tropical tallgrass as a biofuel stock. (Iowa City Press-Citizen)

SMART METERS: An Illinois utility is keeping consumer energy data locked down until regulators clarify how it can be used. (Chicago Tribune)

SECURITY: Experts say it’s extremely unlikely that hackers could cause sustained outages on the U.S. grid. (Politico)

***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%.***

WIND: Wind turbines at an Ohio Honda plant are producing more energy than expected. (Bellefontaine Examiner)

COMMENTARY: A legal challenge could be Republicans’ best shot at derailing EPA carbon rules. (The New Republic)

AARP calls Wisconsin utility’s proposed rate plan ‘distressing’

NOTE TO READERS: Only three days left to participate in our reader survey. Thanks for your feedback so far!

FRACKING: Industry backers say a recent jobs survey makes the case for expanded fracking in Illinois, critics aren’t so sure about the numbers. (Midwest Energy News)

***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’ ***

• Some Illinois landowners are getting fake letters saying their leases have ended. (Carbondale Southern Illinoisan)
• Ohio drilling activity moves south. (Columbus Dispatch)
• Columbus lags other Ohio cities in supply-chain businesses. (Columbus Business First)
• Activists in Columbus push for a “community bill of rights” intended in part to limit drilling activity. (Columbus Dispatch)
• Michigan activists call for more local control of fracking sites. (MLive)

UTILITIES: The AARP opposes a Wisconsin utility’s plan to increased fixed charges: “To have the higher charge… without even turning on a light, is distressing.” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

ALSO: NRG Energy’s David Crane says he’s “trying to win at the current model and in the future models“, and a Michigan lawmaker introduces a resolution calling for more generating capacity in the Upper Peninsula. (EnergyWire, WLUC)

EPA: Indiana officials say EPA carbon rules will “cause significant harm to Hoosiers.” (Gannett)

OIL: A study finds allowing crude oil exports would lower gasoline prices in the U.S., and federal regulators introduce new rules intended to prevent runaway oil trains. (Associated Press, The Hill)

ETHANOL: Another Iowa plant begins producing cellulosic ethanol. (Radio Iowa)

EFFICIENCY: LED streetlights aren’t just saving money, they’re changing the way cities appear and are even credited for helping reduce crime. (Forbes)

SOLAR: An anonymous donor gives $90,000 toward installing solar panels in Ypsilanti, Michigan. (Ypsilanti Courier)

COMMENTARY: The Republican Party’s secret stance on climate change, and Illinois’ fracking regulations remain “a model for how future rules-making procedures should be handled.” (io9, Bloomington Panatagraph)