Michigan senators seek to halt Rover pipeline construction

PIPELINES:
• A Michigan agency rejects a request to halt construction of the Rover gas pipeline over environmental and safety concerns in an area of southeast Michigan. (MLive)
• Meanwhile, two U.S. senators from Michigan make a similar request to federal regulators. (MLive)

ALSO:
• New documents raise conflict-of-interest questions about whether the second company hired to study alternatives to Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline had also done work simultaneously for Enbridge. (DeSmog Blog)
• North Dakota officials continue to explore their options for recouping costs incurred by the Dakota Access pipeline protests. (Forum News Service)
• Criminal charges are dropped against the operator of a drone who captured footage of Dakota Access pipeline security workers.

Xcel Energy CEO says wind will be utility’s largest energy source by 2021

SMART GRID: As smart meter usage expands, so do questions about the ways utilities and other companies can harness energy data to advance grid technology while still protecting consumer privacy. (Midwest Energy News)

WIND: The CEO of Xcel Energy discusses the increasing role of renewables in its generation mix and why wind will be its largest energy source by 2021. (Utility Dive)

SOLAR:
• Local officials celebrate the installation of solar panels at five of six fire stations in Dubuque, Iowa. (Dubuque Telegraph Herald)
• A Nebraska City Council approves electric rates for residents who want to participate in a community solar project. (Fremont Tribune)
• A company is in talks with an Iowa community about installing solar panels on the roof of a public works building as a way to reduce the city’s energy costs.

Minnesota regulators approve Xcel Energy’s plan for major wind energy expansion

ELECTRIC VEHICLES:
• Several utilities across the Midwest are backing the push to use Volkswagen settlement funds for electric school buses. (Midwest Energy News)
• The first electric school bus in the Midwest will begin transporting students in a suburban Minneapolis-St. Paul school district this fall. (Midwest Energy News)

WIND:
• Minnesota regulators approve Xcel Energy’s plans for a major wind energy expansion across four states that will increase the utility’s regional wind output by 70 percent. (Electric Light & Power)
• Contention between bird conservation groups and wind energy interests in Ohio is likely to continue as projects are pursued along Lake Erie.

Minnesota officials plan for spike in electric vehicle adoption

COAL:
• Advocates say an Indiana utility’s plan to delay the installation of new wastewater pollution controls at its largest coal plant is among the first clear effects of President Trump’s rollback of environmental regulations. (Midwest Energy News)
• The coal industry is growing in North Dakota, though forces impacting the industry nationally are “creeping into the landscape.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

ELECTRIC VEHICLES: Minnesota officials are planning the next steps for a statewide electric vehicle charging network as EV adoption is expected to increase and the vehicles become more mainstream. (Minneapolis Star Tribune, New York Times)

RENEWABLES:
• Clean energy growth in Iowa has not only helped the state diversify its energy portfolio, but also has “created jobs, provided economic growth and defined Iowa as a leader.” (Cedar Rapids Gazette)
• Independently owned renewable energy facilities in west Michigan are cautiously optimistic they will remain economically viable amid regulatory changes. (MiBiz)

SOLAR:
• Funding for solar programs under Illinois’ Future Energy Jobs Act has been preserved through a legislative override of the governor’s budget veto. (PV Magazine)
• Indiana is among several states where utility lobbyists have been aggressively fighting net metering policies and succeeding.

Engineer says Mackinac pipeline has 1 in 60 chance of breaking by 2053

POLLUTION: Following an Ohio Supreme Court ruling last week, consumer advocates say ratepayers should not be on the hook for paying legacy pollution costs at utilities’ former power plants. (Midwest Energy News)

PIPELINES: While presenting the findings of a major study on potential alternatives to Enbridge’s Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac, the engineer who authored the report says the pipeline has a 1 in 60 chance of breaking by 2053. (MLive)

GRID: Developers of the Grain Belt Express wind energy transmission line will have another chance at regulatory approval in Missouri after litigation involving a different project has been settled. (Midwest Energy News)

RENEWABLES: Driven by new wind and solar development, the U.S. got more electricity from renewable sources than it did from nuclear in March and April for the first time in decades. (Associated Press)

NUCLEAR:
• A nuclear plant in southeast Michigan recently released higher-than-normal amounts of chlorine into Lake Erie.

Michigan study says solar customers provide net benefit to grid

SOLAR: A Minneapolis community solar developer is focusing its efforts on low-income residents, using faith-based groups and other entities as “backup subscribers.” (Midwest Energy News)

ALSO:
• Four schools within an Indiana school district are in the process of completing solar installations that officials say will meet 80 percent of each facility’s electric needs. (Merrillville Post-Tribune)
• A new study commissioned by a clean energy group in Michigan says utility customers with solar panels provide a net benefit to the grid. (Michigan Radio)

WIND:
• Multiple agriculture groups in South Dakota are urging voters to reject strict turbine setback distances adopted in one county. (Sioux City Journal)
• A major Michigan utility breaks ground on a 44-megawatt wind project, its third in the state. (MLive)

COAL: North Dakota’s congressional delegation is pushing the Trump administration to increase funding for “clean coal” research.

Michigan AG calls for ‘specific and definite timetable’ to close Mackinac pipeline

PIPELINES: Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette calls for a “specific and definite timetable” to close Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac, following the release of a major report last week. (Detroit News)

ALSO:
• The Dakota Access pipeline developer continues fighting a complaint filed by state regulators that the company improperly reported the discovery of Native American artifacts in North Dakota. (Associated Press)
• The developer of the Keystone XL pipeline is struggling to line up customers to ship crude from Canada to the Gulf Coast, putting the pipeline’s fate in jeopardy. (Fox Business)
• A private security firm hired by Energy Transfer Partners to monitor pipeline protests — which apparently did so without a license — says it’s the subject of a “deliberate misinformation campaign.” (Forum News Service)
• Many Dakota Access pipeline activists are shifting their attention to the proposed replacement and expansion of Enbridge’s Line 3 through Minnesota. (Minnesota Public Radio)

RESEARCH: Emails show Iowa State University officials worked with utility lobbyists to draft a plan to uproot the state’s renewable energy research center and give it a more industry-friendly mission.

Q&A: Clean energy pioneer sees potential in using food waste for renewable energy

Jigar Shah, the founder of solar company SunEdison, is credited with helping transform the industry in the early 2000s by allowing customers a pay-as-you-go model for installing solar panels, opening the door for widespread adoption. After leaving SunEdison, Shah in 2014 co-founded his latest venture in San Francisco-based Generate Capital, a specialty finance company focused on sustainable infrastructure within the food, energy, water and materials sectors. Amid the “Resource Revolution” — which the company sees as an opportunity to transform the productivity of systems that power society — Generate Capital took Shah’s SunEdison concept and applied it to an “Infrastructure-as-a-Service” model for both companies and municipalities that might struggle with upfront capital costs. Earlier this year, Generate Capital bought a state-of-the-art biodigester facility in rural West Michigan for $4.4 million after the facility abruptly closed two years ago, despite initial fanfare. Financial specialists say the facility, which opened in Fremont, Michigan in 2012, was overbuilt at $22 million.

‘Bring on more renewables,’ outgoing federal regulator says ahead of U.S. grid study

NOTE TO READERS: U.S. Energy News is taking a break for Independence Day. The email digest will return on Wednesday, July 5. 

GRID: An outgoing member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says renewable energy deployment does not harm grid reliability: “I say bring on more renewables.” (Reuters)

ALSO:
• A report prepared for the Natural Resources Defense Council cautions against focusing on outdated coal and nuclear plants’ “baseload” attributes. (Utility Dive)
• A pilot study led by BMW and Pacific Electric and Gas shows electric vehicles can be a valuable tool for supporting grid flexibility. (InsideClimate News)

COAL:
• The Navajo Nation Council approves a lease extension allowing a coal plant in northeastern Arizona to continue operating through December 2019. (Associated Press)
• A U.S. House committee approves the RECLAIM Act, which would speed up funding to help coal communities hurt by the industry downturn.

Illinois bill seeks to divert $160 million in solar funding to resolve budget problems

NOTE TO READERS: Midwest Energy News is taking a break for Independence Day. The email digest will return on Wednesday, July 5. 

PIPELINES:
• Next week, Michigan officials plan to publicly release a highly anticipated draft report about Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline through the Straits of Mackinac, though advocates are uncertain whether it will lead to action. (Midwest Energy News)
• A North Dakota regulatory board accuses a private security firm hired by the Dakota Access pipeline developer of operating in the state without a license. (Forum News Service)

SOLAR:
• Six months after signing major energy legislation, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is backing a bill that would divert for general uses up to $160 million allocated to develop solar power in low-income neighborhoods. (Crain’s Chicago Business)
• A 100-megawatt solar project spanning 16 sites comes online in Minnesota.