Minnesota to rely on nuclear into the 2030s for reliability, emissions

COAL:
• Ohio’s shift from coal to natural gas has led to a significant drop in carbon emissions, which fell by 50 million metric tons from 2005 to 2015. (Midwest Energy News)
• Illinois coal production increased 10 percent in 2017, though experts say the sector’s long-term prospects remain shaky as plants are retired and new natural gas facilities come online. (Associated Press, SNL)

NUCLEAR:
• Minnesota will continue to rely heavily on nuclear power until the 2030s to maintain grid reliability and keep down carbon emissions. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
• A federal appeals court hears oral arguments in a case looking to overturn Illinois’ zero-emission credit program supporting nuclear plants. (Utility Dive)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join SEIA’s CEO Abigail Hopper, clean energy communications expert Jane Bloch, utility executives and industry experts at RENEW Wisconsin’s “Connecting to a Powerful Future” Summit. Thursday, Jan.

Minnesota solar capacity could reach one gigawatt by 2019

EFFICIENCY: Some clean energy advocates say additional revenue raised in Minneapolis for sustainability efforts is better spent on efficiency programs rather than renewable energy credits. (Midwest Energy News)

SOLAR: Minnesota’s solar capacity now exceeds 700 megawatts, and further growth is expected in the coming years. (Minnesota Public Radio)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join SEIA’s CEO Abigail Hopper, clean energy communications expert Jane Bloch, utility executives and industry experts at RENEW Wisconsin’s “Connecting to a Powerful Future” Summit. Thursday, Jan. 18, in Madison. Register Today!***

WIND:
• A $90 million, 44-megawatt wind project is online in eastern Michigan, with more turbines expected to be added in 2020.

Analysts: State renewable portfolio standards still driving investment

ELECTRIC VEHICLES: Chicago looks to increase the size of its electric bus fleet, potentially doubling a planned expansion if funding is available. (Midwest Energy News)

RENEWABLES:
• In states like Illinois and Michigan, renewable portfolio standards are still a valuable tool in driving investment despite declining costs in the sector. (Utility Dive)
• Advocates say uncertainty over tax credits could hurt state funding for wind and solar projects in Iowa. (KIOW)
• Some independent, renewable power producers in northern Michigan could see the rates they’re paid by a utility cut in half after a recent ruling by state regulators. (Traverse City Record-Eagle)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join SEIA’s CEO Abigail Hopper, clean energy communications expert Jane Bloch, utility executives and industry experts at RENEW Wisconsin’s “Connecting to a Powerful Future” Summit.

Tariffs could add to solar uncertainty in Indiana as net metering is phased out

OHIO: Members of the Cleveland chapter of the NAACP are at odds over whether the group should support a Department of Energy plan that would benefit FirstEnergy’s coal and nuclear plants. (Midwest Energy News)

SOLAR:
• In an exclusive neighborhood in Carmel, Indiana, nearby property owners are upset over the size of a resident’s solar installation. (Indianapolis Star)
• Workers complete the last of three community solar gardens undertaken in the past year in a western Minnesota county. (West Central Tribune)
• As Indiana phases out net metering, the state’s solar industry could be further destabilized by tariffs on imported panels. (Indianapolis Star)
• Solar generation from net metering customers and utility-scale projects is expected to have increased in Michigan in 2017, though policy changes on the horizon make the outlook more uncertain.

Advocates hope Lake Erie project sparks interest in offshore wind

MICHIGAN: The executive director of the Michigan Agency for Energy discusses the future of an oil and gas pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac as well as the state’s clean energy potential. (Midwest Energy News)

WIND:
• Advocates hope an offshore wind project under development in Lake Erie will spark projects elsewhere in the Great Lakes after interest peaked nearly 10 years ago. (Ensia)
• A wind turbine manufacturing plant in South Dakota will stay open longer than planned after receiving a “substantial new order” from two companies. (Sioux Falls Argus Leader)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join SEIA’s CEO Abigail Hopper, clean energy communications expert Jane Bloch, utility executives and industry experts at RENEW Wisconsin’s “Connecting to a Powerful Future” Summit. Thursday, Jan.

Grid modernization a top priority for Ohio utility regulator

NOTE TO READERS: Midwest Energy News is taking a break for the holidays, the daily digest will return on Tuesday, January 2. Also, donations through Dec. 31 will be doubled via the NewsMatch program, click here to contribute. Thanks for reading! SOLAR:
• In Kansas, a rural electric cooperative and solar installers find common ground over a demand fee by orienting panels toward the west to increase production during peak, late afternoon hours.

Nuclear regulators downplayed safety concerns at U.S. nuclear plants

NUCLEAR: Federal nuclear regulators have downplayed warnings about safety concerns from its own experts at 61 nuclear plants in the United States, including multiple in Illinois, an investigation concludes. (Better Government Association)

BUILDINGS: Chicago’s chief sustainability officer is at the center of several of the city’s clean energy initiatives, including a major push toward building efficiency. (Midwest Energy News)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join SEIA’s CEO Abigail Hopper, clean energy communications expert Jane Bloch, utility executives and industry experts at RENEW Wisconsin’s “Connecting to a Powerful Future” Summit. Thursday, Jan. 18, in Madison. Register Today!***

OVERSIGHT: The former head of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is picked to lead the U.S. EPA’s Region 5 office in Chicago, a move criticized by the EPA’s national employee union.

Michigan utility plans to replace last remaining coal plant with natural gas

RENEWABLES: A Minnesota electric cooperative is among the latest utilities to offer a commercial green tariff program in response to growing corporate demand for renewable energy. (Midwest Energy News)

OIL AND GAS: Michigan’s largest municipally owned utility announces plans to build a $500 million natural gas-powered plant at the site of a soon-to-be-retired coal plant in Lansing, the utility’s last remaining coal plant. (Lansing State Journal)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join SEIA’s CEO Abigail Hopper, clean energy communications expert Jane Bloch, utility executives and industry experts at RENEW Wisconsin’s “Connecting to a Powerful Future” Summit. Thursday, January 18th, in Madison, WI. Register Today!***

POLICY:
• The Senate Republican leader in Ohio plans to move a bill in January to eliminate renewable energy benchmarks. (WOSU)
• Congress is preparing to vote this week on a sweeping tax bill that preserves tax credits for wind energy, solar power, and electric vehicles.