‘Virtual’ power purchase agreements could boost wind farms

WIND: A draft U.S. Department of Energy report shows mainly minor or negligible short-term impacts from a plan to construct and operate six wind turbines approximately eight miles offshore of Cleveland. (Midwest Energy News)

ALSO: “Virtual power purchase agreements” are gaining steam around the country and could “provide a significant boost” to Indiana wind farms. (Indianapolis Business Journal)

***SPONSORED LINK: How significant is the role of energy in the Midwest economy? Find out at the 2017 Midwest Energy Policy Conference October 3-4. Join policy makers, businesses, advocates and regulators who’ll be broadening their perspectives on infrastructure, energy efficiency and energy economic development through diverse, fact-based presentations. Click here for details.***

SOLAR:
• The U.S. solar industry installed nearly 2,400 megawatts in the second quarter this year, representing the largest total in a second quarter to date. (Solar Industry Magazine)
• A group of volunteers in Indiana are helping residents install solar panels under current net metering rules before they are phased out. (WFPL)
• Officials in a Minnesota town approve a 3-megawatt solar garden on rural residential property but require that it not be visible to neighbors. (Forum News Service)
• Students at the University of Illinois develop a solar-powered cell phone case that charges devices with indoor and outdoor light.

Report shows strong clean energy job growth across the Midwest

CLEAN ENERGY: A new report shows a collection of 12 Midwestern states added more than 30,000 clean energy jobs last year, a 5.41 percent increase from 2015, bringing the region’s total to roughly 600,000. (Toledo Blade)

ALSO:
• In Minnesota, clean energy jobs increased nearly four times faster than the overall job growth rate, prompting bipartisan calls from state officials to increase clean energy standards there. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
• Kansas ranks fourth among 12 Midwest states for clean energy job growth. (Wichita Eagle)

***SPONSORED LINK: How significant is the role of energy in the Midwest economy? Find out at the 2017 Midwest Energy Policy Conference October 3-4. Join policy makers, businesses, advocates and regulators who’ll be broadening their perspectives on infrastructure, energy efficiency and energy economic development through diverse, fact-based presentations. Click here for details.***

EFFICIENCY: As Ameren seeks to lower its energy efficiency targets under Illinois’ new energy law, the utility is framing the debate as a civil rights and economic justice issue, arguing that lower targets would support low-income programs. (Midwest Energy News)

WIND:
• North Dakota regulators approve the final permit needed for a $375 million, 300-megawatt wind project. (Forum News Service)
• DTE Energy has been in talks with landowners over a potential wind project in an eastern Michigan county, drawing early support and opposition.

Minneapolis considers doubling amount of renewable energy purchases

PETCOKE: Advocates concerned about pollution from petroleum coke are worried an Ohio professor’s study downplaying the health risks will gain new prominence now that he has been named to a key EPA post. (Midwest Energy News)

RENEWABLES: The Minneapolis City Council is considering doubling the amount of renewable energy the city purchases from Xcel Energy, meaning about three-quarters of its energy purchased would come from renewables. (Southwest Journal)

***SPONSORED LINK: Learn the latest in renewable energy at the NEW Energy Fair in St. Paul, Minnesota, September 9-10 with a Solar Professional Day September 8. Featuring keynote speakers Tara Houska and Jason Edens, FREE admission to 80+ workshops and 60+ exhibits, Electric Vehicle Ride-N-Drive, and more.***

FRACKING: A group pushing for a charter amendment to ban fracking in Youngstown, Ohio vows to appeal a recent denial by county officials to the state Supreme Court.

Planners in rural Michigan county see commercial solar as ‘existential threat’ to farmland

NOTE TO READERS: Midwest Energy News is taking a break for Labor Day. The email digest will return on Tuesday, September 5. SOLAR: A draft policy in an eastern Michigan county looks to restrict commercial solar development, calling it an “existential threat to the county’s agricultural economy.” (Huron Daily Tribune)

ALSO:
• As the solar sector challenges traditional business models across the U.S., Minnesota is among some states where utilities and regulators are taking a collaborative approach. (Yale Environment 360)
• A northwest Indiana school board unanimously approves plans to install solar panels at several of its schools. (Michigan City News-Dispatch)
• Six years after it was first announced, a 1.6-megawatt solar project is now under construction at a former foundry site in southern Michigan.

Michigan governor ‘greatly concerned’ by latest Mackinac pipeline issues

MICROGRID: Ameren and a Chicago-based engineering firm successfully tested the islanding capabilities of an Illinois microgrid for 24 hours using only solar, wind and battery storage. (Midwest Energy News)

PIPELINES:
• Michigan agencies are calling on Enbridge to make immediate repairs to its Line 5 pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac after sections were discovered to have protective coating missing, a development that has Gov. Rick Snyder “greatly concerned.” (Detroit News)
• Enbridge staff and emergency responders practice pipeline spill training on a river separating North Dakota and Minnesota. (Forum News Service)
• A hole discovered in a pipeline in North Dakota spills 500 barrels of saltwater byproduct, though the contamination was contained to a well site. (Bismarck Tribune)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join the Midwest Energy Research Consortium (M-WERC) at the “Building the Case for Energy and Resource Efficiency” Conference, September 21, in Milwaukee. This conference will show simple steps to reduce energy costs, how to sell projects internally, and recent case studies of energy efficiency projects. Register here.***

TRANSPORTATION: A federal grant will help increase the number of compressed natural gas fueling stations along the interstate in western Kansas, an area experts say is lacking particularly for the trucking industry.

Top Wisconsin environmental regulator appointed to EPA Midwest office

REGULATION: The head of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources — who has questioned the role of human activity in climate change and last year ordered such information to be removed from state websites — is appointed to be the deputy administrator of the U.S. EPA office overseeing Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa, where she will hold the top post until an administrator is appointed. (Wisconsin State Journal, The Hill)

EFFICIENCY: A bipartisan group of Ohio lawmakers saw firsthand how energy efficiency programs support good jobs as they met with union and business leaders last week at a Cleveland-area training facility. (Midwest Energy News)

***SPONSORED LINK: How significant is the role of energy in the Midwest economy? Find out at the 2017 Midwest Energy Policy Conference October 3-4. Join policy makers, businesses, advocates and regulators who’ll be broadening their perspectives on infrastructure, energy efficiency and energy economic development through diverse, fact-based presentations. Click here for details.***

FINANCE: Two West Michigan cities adopt Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing programs, but do so in a relatively uncommon way compared to other communities in the state. (Midwest Energy News)

PIPELINES:
• Tribes fighting the Dakota Access pipeline say the developer is overstating the potential impacts of a shutdown and “brought potential problems on itself” by building the project despite the uncertainty of final federal approval. (Associated Press)
• Six people are arrested on trespassing charges near the Minnesota-Wisconsin border after stopping construction on the Line 3 pipeline replacement project.

Advocates say agreement with Ohio utility will lead to major clean energy investment

UTILITIES:
• A wide-ranging agreement between American Electric Power and several groups calls for multiple new clean energy investments, though consumer advocates are opposed because it would “lock-in subsidies for its power plants, subsidies for special interests, and various other charges.” (Columbus Dispatch)
• Westar Energy and Great Plains Energy formally ask Kansas regulators to approve a $14 billion merger announced in July. (Topeka Capital Journal)

SUSTAINABILITY: An environmental camp in Northern Minnesota faces the challenges of having new facilities certified under rigorous net-zero building standards. (Midwest Energy News)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join the Midwest Energy Research Consortium (M-WERC) at the “Building the Case for Energy and Resource Efficiency” Conference, September 21, in Milwaukee. This conference will show simple steps to reduce energy costs, how to sell projects internally, and recent case studies of energy efficiency projects. Register here.***

PIPELINES:
• Ohio residents will continue to fight the planned NEXUS gas pipeline despite construction approval by federal regulators. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
• North Dakota regulators meet behind closed doors to consider a counter-proposal made by the Dakota Access developer to settle multiple issues around the construction of the pipeline.

Federal regulators approve construction of NEXUS gas pipeline

CLEAN TECH: A Chicago-based accelerator will spend the next two years developing an investment model that better suits the needs of clean-energy startups. (Midwest Energy News)

PIPELINES:
• Federal regulators allow construction to start on the controversial $2 billion, 257-mile NEXUS gas pipeline through Ohio and Michigan. (Toledo Blade)
• A lawsuit against environmental groups opposed to the Dakota Access pipeline continues the narrative that protesters were “violent adversaries.” (Grist)
• Details on a proposed settlement between North Dakota regulators and the Dakota Access pipeline developer over artifacts discovered during construction remains confidential. (Bismarck Tribune)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join 300+ energy leaders from industry, the public sector, academia, and non-profits at the MW Energy Storage Summit on September 15 to grow our shared understanding of energy storage trends, opportunities, and barriers. Click here to register and learn more, space is limited!***

SOLAR:
• A community solar project on a reservation in Minnesota is the first in the nation to be formally linked with an energy assistance program meant to help low-income residents. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
• Indiana school districts rush to complete solar projects before new net metering rules take effect.