Warren Buffet remains bullish on renewable energy

UTILITIES: Why Warren Buffet is investing billions in renewable energy. (Wall Street Journal)

ALSO: Utilities and clean energy advocates find some common ground on distributed generation. (Greentech 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’ ***

SMART GRID: Illinois nonprofits target “hard to reach populations” to help them understand how they can fully benefit from smart meters. (Midwest Energy News)

OIL: Critics say records show railroads are favoring the oil industry. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

FRACKING: An industry conference discusses earthquakes: “we’re not saying it isn’t related to oil and gas, and we’re not saying it is.” (Columbus Business First)

MICHIGAN: A report finds Michigan’s renewable energy investments, predominantly wind, will top $3.5 billion by next year. (MLive)

OHIO: Despite a “freeze” to the state’s renewable energy standard, FirstEnergy is seeking to buy thousands of renewable energy credits. (Crain’s Cleveland Business)

COAL: North Dakota officials approve the state’s first new coal mine since the 1970s, and Prairie State hires a new CEO(Forum News Service, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

TRANSMISSION: Illinois regulators approve a new transmission line that is expected to cut carbon emissions by 473,000 tons over 15 years by improving access to clean energy. (Platts)

SOLAR: An Illinois school begins work on a $1.8 million solar array. (Peoria Journal Star)

***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.***

TRANSPORTATION: A poll finds Americans prefer expanding transit over building new roads. (Streetsblog)

COMMENTARY: Utility executives call for an end to wind tax credits, and why “coal is king of corporate welfare in Illinois.” (Forbes, Huffington Post)

Ohio loophole allows toxic fracking chemicals w/o permit

EFFICIENCY: Minnesota leads the Midwest in the latest ACEEE scorecard, while Indiana and Ohio drop in the rankings after lawmakers backtrack on key policies. (Midwest Energy News)

ALSO: Why Wisconsin returned to the top 20 in the ACEEE ranking, a North Dakota group pursues $25 million from the state’s oil revenue trust fund for energy efficiency projects, and the Energy Department considers new standards for air conditioners and dryers. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Bismarck Tribune, The Hill)

***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.***

FRACKING: A loophole in Ohio law allows drillers to use toxic chemicals without a permit, and researchers find significant methane leakage in shale-producing regions. (Columbus Dispatch, ClimateWire)

NATURAL GAS: Natural gas is projected to surpass coal as the primary fuel source on the PJM Interconnection for the first time next year. (Natural Gas Intelligence)

WIND: A new report says wind could meet 20 percent of global electricity demand by 2030, and the Michigan National Guard will test a Minnesota-made air tunnel wind generator. (Climate Progress, Great Lakes Echo)

SOLAR: Utilities start to break into the solar business. (Reuters)

ELECTRIC CARS: A new Michigan law could make it the most restrictive state in the country against Tesla’s sales model. (MLive)

GRID: The Pentagon pushes for more microgrids on military bases to improve energy security. (Wall Street Journal)

POLITICS: Koch Industries is spending more on lobbying; meanwhile, the Koch Brothers are a popular target for environmental groups’ political ads. (Greenwire, Grist)

ETHANOL: A watchdog group sues the EPA for records, alleging industry influence in a decision to lower the renewable fuel mandate. (The Hill)

COMMENTARY: What would a grid designed for solar look like? (Greentech Media)

3M to offer solar discount as an employee perk

SOLAR: GM plans a 2.2 MW solar array at an Ohio assembly plant, which would be the company’s fifth-largest solar installation. (Youngstown Vindicator)

ALSO: Minnesota-based 3M will offer discounts on solar panels as an employee benefit. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

***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: European passive house standards get a makeover for Midwest climates, and the Department of Energy will pursue new efficiency standards for water heaters and some fluorescent lights. (Midwest Energy News, The Hill)

COAL: Citizen groups in Illinois seek a federal takeover of the state’s mining regulator, and an Illinois county delays a vote on a proposed coal waste storage facility. (SNL, Springfield State Journal-Register)

CARS: Hybrid owners love their cars but still face a stigma on the road; Michigan’s governor signs a bill, supported by GM, that blocks Tesla’s sales model in the state; and Ford drops the price of its electric Focus. (Chicago Tribune, CBS Detroit, MLive, Autoblog)

OIL AND GAS: High pollution levels are found near Ohio drilling sites, a Canadian company considers a new refinery in North Dakota, and an industry gathering gives Ohio officials a look at other shale plays around the country. (Associated Press, Columbus Business First)

POLITICS: Environment and energy issues are playing a major role in midterm campaigns. (New York Times)

WASTE-TO-ENERGY: The Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear a dispute over a proposed waste-to-energy plant near Green Bay. (Green Bay Press-Gazette)

NUCLEAR: Allison Macfarlane, chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, is stepping down at the end of the year. (Washington Post)

GRID: Rural co-ops say bigger farm machinery is leading to more accidents with power lines. (Minnesota Public Radio)

***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.***

TRANSMISSION: A Clean Line Energy Partners executive says she’s “a supporter” of distributed generation, but that it won’t negate the need for utility-scale wind and transmission. (Recharge News)

COMMENTARY: “…one rather despairs in turning to utilities for innovation. But nothing focuses the mind like the threat of bankruptcy.” (Grist)

Ohio business group opposes coal ‘bailout’ plan

OHIO: A coalition of businesses opposes an Ohio utility’s proposal to guarantee prices for its coal plants, saying the plan amounts to “an unfair tax.” (Columbus Business First)

WISCONSIN: A fossil fuel industry group is misrepresenting the wishes of utility customers in filings supporting proposed increases in fixed charges. (Madison Capital Times)

***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.***

GEOTHERMAL: How abandoned copper mines in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula could play a role in the region’s energy future. (Midwest Energy News)

SOLAR: An NREL report says solar prices continue to fall. (Denver Business Journal)

WIND: A Michigan utility settles a lawsuit with 17 landowners over wind farm complaints, terms of the settlement are being kept confidential. (MLive)

OIL AND GAS:
• Falling oil prices lower projections for shale output. (Bloomberg)
• Ohio rules allow wells to be drilled close enough to homes to put them at risk from an explosion. (EnergyWire)
• A leaking wellhead in North Dakota is contained after releasing at least 650 barrels of oil. (Associated Press)
• Michigan residents say a planned natural gas pipeline would disrupt a burial ground. (MLive)
• A Wisconsin frac sand mine is fined $80,000 for discharging stormwater into a creek. (La Crosse Tribune)

POLITICS: In several congressional races, Democratic candidates are sounding like Republicans on climate change. (InsideClimate News)

CLIMATE: Ann Arbor officials move forward on plans to cut the city’s carbon emissions by 90 percent by 2050. (MLive)

EFFICIENCY: Michigan International Speedway joins the EPA’s Green Power Partnership, and the Department of Energy says it will not regulate high-intensity lamps. (CBS Detroit, The Hill)

TRANSPORTATION: Records show that few members of the board that oversees transportation and development issues in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area are regular transit users. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

COMMENTARY: How wind energy will push Iowa beyond EPA carbon reduction targets. (NRDC Switchboard)

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)