Xcel Energy announces $2 billion in new wind projects across Upper Midwest

WIND: Xcel Energy announces a major push for wind energy, with plans to develop 1,500 megawatts across states in the Upper Midwest at a cost of $2 billion. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

ALSO: Construction on a scaled-back version of an Illinois wind project will begin next year, developers say. (Bloomington Pantagraph)

***SPONSORED LINK: Discover the human side of the energy future at the 2016 Surge Summit, featuring interactive panels, group discussions, and networking with leading experts in smart grid customer engagement.***

SOLAR:
• A county executive in Wisconsin plans to allocate $2 million in the next budget for solar development, tripling the county’s solar production next year. (Madison Capital Times)
• A Wisconsin utility breaks ground on a new natural gas plant that will also include solar panels, making it the biggest solar energy producer of any utility in the state. (Janesville Gazette)

ELECTRIC VEHICLES:
• Electric car maker Tesla sues the state of Michigan for the right to sell its vehicles directly to customers and bypass dealerships.

Progress made in Minnesota community solar dispute

EFFICIENCY: Critics say FirstEnergy’s efficiency plan filed in Ohio would not produce energy or cost savings beyond business-as-usual and that the company could take credit for work done by others, making millions of dollars as a result. (Midwest Energy News)

SOLAR:
• Some progress was made this week in long-running disputes between solar installers and Xcel Energy over Minnesota’s community solar program. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
• A music school in Minnesota claims to be the first in the Midwest to run entirely on solar energy. (Woodbury Bulletin)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join us October 5 in Minneapolis for Trending Green: Understanding Corporate Renewable Procurement in the Midwest. Featuring keynote speaker Adam Kramer of Switch–data center provider and sustainability leader—along with other regional energy thought leaders.***

MERGERS: According to new filings, legal complaints against Great Plains Energy’s planned $12.2 billion acquisition of Westar will be dropped. (Topeka Capital-Journal)

OIL AND GAS:
• A series of gas pipelines under development in the Marcellus and Utica shale region could lead to billions of dollars in additional drilling activity, industry officials say.

Ohio Republicans strongly support clean energy, poll says

CLEAN ENERGY: Republican voters in Ohio strongly support clean energy policy for renewables and efficiency, according to a new poll. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

MICROGRIDS: Researchers say microgrids will be the “fundamental building block” of the 21st-century electric grid. (Midwest Energy News)

***SPONSORED LINK: Discover the human side of the energy future at the 2016 Surge Summit, featuring interactive panels, group discussions, and networking with leading experts in smart grid customer engagement.***

UTILITIES:
• As shown in Ohio, private equity firms appear eager to purchase utilities’ power plants. (Utility Dive)
• Officials in Ohio discuss the “uncertain future” of the state’s energy law. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
• DTE Energy says Detroit Public Schools has more electric reliability after switching to the utility’s grid.

2010 Michigan oil spill settlement delayed after tribal objections

PIPELINES: Following objections from a Michigan tribe, the federal government has postponed final approval of a settlement with Enbridge over a 2010 oil spill. (InsideClimate News)

ALSO:
• Federal regulators will be in North Dakota this week to investigate complaints about an oil pipeline recently installed under Lake Sakakawea. (Forum News Service)
• Rerouting the Dakota Access pipeline would be a “laborious and costly task” and potentially bring more regulatory hurdles. (Reuters)
• A federal appeals court could reopen as soon as this week an area of the Dakota Access route that was closed temporarily. (EnergyWire)
• Protesters gather in Illinois at the end of the Dakota Access route to show solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

Controversial Minnesota mining site to be repurposed as community solar project

SOLAR:
• Grid operators around the country are exploring a wide range of potential fixes to what’s known as the “duck curve” problem in which solar production and demand peaks don’t align. (Midwest Energy News)
• A controversial sand and gravel mining site in Minnesota will be repurposed as a community solar project. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

CLEAN POWER PLAN: Most of the 27 states challenging the Clean Power Plan are already on track to meet emission-reduction targets. (Reuters)

***SPONSORED LINK: Discover the human side of the energy future at the 2016 Surge Summit, featuring interactive panels, group discussions, and networking with leading experts in smart grid customer engagement.***

PIPELINES:
• A federal appeals court orders a halt to construction on another section of the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota. (Associated Press)
• A tribal leader in Wisconsin says the Dakota Access pipeline should be a concern for all, not just Native Americans.

General Motors commits to run entirely on renewables by 2050

RENEWABLES: General Motors announces it plans to power its global operations entirely by renewable energy by 2050. (Detroit News)

COAL: AEP is faced with two paths on whether to maintain or sell its remaining coal plants in Ohio. (Columbus Business Journal)

***SPONSORED LINK: Discover the human side of the energy future at the 2016 Surge Summit, featuring interactive panels, group discussions, and networking with leading experts in smart grid customer engagement.***

CLEAN ENERGY: A new “community mapping” tool created by clean energy advocates gives policymakers and activists a national scorecard on state and local clean energy initiatives. (Midwest Energy News)

SOLAR:
• A Michigan utility begins construction of a 2 MW solar array on vacant Detroit land, and will renovate a nearby playground in the process. (Detroit Free Press)
• Critics say a Minnesota county is playing politics by approving one large solar project while opposing another.

As Wisconsin utilities seek higher fixed charges, other states balk

UTILITIES: As Wisconsin utilities look to increase fixed customer charges, regulators in other states have balked at such proposals. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

FRACKING: The Ohio Supreme Court rejects efforts to put anti-fracking initiatives on November ballots, siding with election officials who said the plans didn’t provide enough guidance on how local permitting would work. (EnergyWire)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join us October 5 in Minneapolis for Trending Green: Understanding Corporate Renewable Procurement in the Midwest. Featuring keynote speaker Adam Kramer of Switch–data center provider and sustainability leader—along with other regional energy thought leaders.***

ADVOCACY:
• A new ratepayer advocacy group forms in Minnesota and begins by fighting a utility’s proposed plan that increases rates for residents and decreases rates for industry. (Midwest Energy News)
• A Wisconsin clean energy group is recognized nationally for its work fighting utility rate plans.

AEP to sell four power plants in Ohio and Indiana for $2.1 billion

UTILITIES:
• Efforts by Ohio utilities to guarantee income for affiliated coal and nuclear operations are part of a broader trend, according to a new report. (Midwest Energy News)
• AEP has reportedly reached an agreement to sell one coal and three gas-fired power plants in Ohio and Indiana for $2.1 billion. (Columbus Dispatch)

SOLAR: Michigan’s net metering program grew 20 percent in 2015, though officials and advocates say its growth may have been tempered by uncertainty created by the state legislature. (Midwest Energy News)

***SPONSORED LINK: Discover the human side of the energy future at the 2016 Surge Summit, featuring interactive panels, group discussions, and networking with leading experts in smart grid customer engagement.***

EFFICIENCY: Nebraska is set to make a push for energy efficiency by benchmarking energy usage in nearly 4,000 state-owned buildings. (Midwest Energy News)

WIND: A company withdraws a permit application for a 100-turbine wind project in South Dakota.

Wind prices expected to plunge in next decade as projects get larger

REGULATION: Advocates say an Illinois coal plant that has operated for years without an emissions permit symbolizes a larger problem with the state’s permitting process. (Midwest Energy News)

WIND:
• Iowa may become the first state to generate a majority of its electricity from wind. (Renewable Energy World)
• As projects get larger, industry experts say the cost of electricity from wind should plunge 24-30 percent by 2030. (Washington Post)
• Public opposition has helped block three proposed wind projects in South Dakota in the past eight months. (Mitchell Daily Republic)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join us October 5 in Minneapolis for Trending Green: Understanding Corporate Renewable Procurement in the Midwest.

Federal involvement in Dakota Access pipeline is ‘unprecedented’

PIPELINES: Observers say the federal government’s involvement in calling for the Dakota Access pipeline developer to halt construction in a key portion of the project is unprecedented. (Associated Press)

ALSO:
• While some hailed the government’s announcement, not all who oppose the pipeline are optimistic about its decision and future of the project. (Reuters, DeSmog)
• An arrest warrant is issued for reporter Amy Goodman on trespassing charges after covering the pipeline protests in North Dakota. (Democracy Now!)

***SPONSORED LINK: Discover the human side of the energy future at the 2016 Surge Summit, featuring interactive panels, group discussions, and networking with leading experts in smart grid customer engagement.***

EFFICIENCY:
• A Michigan company looks to make windows in buildings more energy efficient without having to replace them. (Midwest Energy News)
• A Nebraska utility says it needs to increase fixed charges because its customers’ electric use patterns have “fundamentally shifted.” (Lincoln Journal Star)

COAL: The U.S.’s aging coal fleet will be a major driver of coal retirements through 2020, experts say.