Minnesota lags on statewide greenhouse gas emission reduction goals

COAL ASH: Under “self-implementing” federal regulations, concerned citizens and advocacy groups in Illinois are left to oversee potentially hazardous coal ash impoundments. (Midwest Energy News)

EMISSIONS: While Minnesota’s electricity-sector greenhouse gas emissions are on track to meet reduction goals from a 2007 law, the state’s transportation, agriculture and industrial sectors are lagging. (Minnesota Public Radio)

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2016 was a breakout year for solar in Wisconsin

SOLAR: Nearly fives times as much solar development took place in Wisconsin last year compared to 2015 “as utilities, businesses and homeowners responded to falling solar prices.” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

ALSO:
• Missouri’s electric cooperative association is backing proposed legislation that would make net metering less available and more costly across the state’s electric sector. (Midwest Energy News)
• A tiny Iowa town considers building a 1.42-megawatt solar project to supply power to residents, which could save $2 million over 20 years in electric costs. (Sioux City Journal)

***SPONSORED LINK: Connect with more than 650 of the region’s best and brightest at MEEA’s 2017 Midwest Energy Solutions Conference, February 22-24 in Chicago, featuring unparalleled networking, insightful panels and more. Register today!***

ADVOCACY: The executive director of the Chicago-based Environmental Law & Policy Center is confident that public opinion, state and local politics and economics are on the side of clean energy heading into the Trump administration. (Midwest Energy News)

CLIMATE:
• Ohio’s carbon dioxide emissions dropped 12.9 percent between 2000 and 2014, but the state still ranks near the top for overall CO2 emissions.

Proposed gas pipeline through Ohio highlights climate rift between EPA, FERC

MINNESOTA: Calling it a “horrible precedent,” business groups join consumer advocates in opposing a bill that would go around state utility regulators and allow Xcel Energy to build a major natural gas plant to replace coal units. (Midwest Energy News)

SOLAR:
• A new online mapping tool developed by a Michigan nonprofit has identified dozens of brownfield sites in the Upper Peninsula with the potential to develop hundreds of megawatts of commercial scale solar. (Midwest Energy News)
• The city council in Madison, Wisconsin votes to provide a $35,000 loan to help a local grocery store install solar panels. (Wisconsin State Journal)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join Dairyland Power Cooperative CEO Barbara Nick and the “Michael Jordan of solar policy,” Adam Browning of Vote Solar, at RENEW Wisconsin’s “Clean Energy Goes Mainstream” Summit. Thursday, Jan.

Second Wisconsin agency removes climate change information from website

NUCLEAR: Unlike in New York and Illinois, environmental groups are not pushing Michigan officials to keep a nuclear plant open in order to hold down greenhouse gas emissions. (EnergyWire)

SOLAR:
• The executive director of a national solar advocacy group discusses how Wisconsin has made clean energy advances despite some state officials’ hostile positions toward renewable energy. (Midwest Energy News)
• A mid-Michigan county is revisiting its zoning ordinances to allow for solar farms as a developer considers a 50-megawatt project on 300 acres. (Lansing State Journal)
• Officials in Ann Arbor, Michigan are looking to resolve concerns over the property tax impacts of going solar within the city. (MLive)
• Property Assessed Clean Energy financing helps a Minnesota business install solar panels on its property.

Minnesota bills would sidestep state utility regulators on natural gas plant

NOTE TO READERS: Midwest Energy News will not be publishing on Monday in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. We will return on Tuesday, January 17. MINNESOTA: Bills introduced in Minnesota would allow Xcel Energy to build a major natural gas plant in Sherburne County where coal units are being retired, effectively sidestepping state regulators who had earlier put the plan on hold. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

EFFICIENCY: Proponents hope that harsh winter weather will spur more Chicago-area ratepayers to adopt smart “learning thermostats,” which can also help drive energy efficiency savings. (Midwest Energy News)

***SPONSORED LINK: Connect with more than 650 of the region’s best and brightest at MEEA’s 2017 Midwest Energy Solutions Conference, February 22-24 in Chicago, featuring unparalleled networking, insightful panels and more.

Businesses form lobbying group to push for Mackinac pipeline closure

FRACKING: Injection wells continue to divide residents in southeast Ohio over the potential health implications of the disposal practice. (The Post Athens)

COAL:
• Minnesota’s second-largest utility sees a diminishing role for coal in its portfolio as the market shifts toward wind and natural gas. (Midwest Energy News)
• A federal judge orders the U.S. EPA to determine whether actions taken under the Obama administration directly resulted in coal industry job losses. (The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register)
• Illinois coal production was down in 2016, but industry officials say it is trending upward in 2017. (Platts)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join Dairyland Power Cooperative CEO Barbara Nick and the “Michael Jordan of solar policy,” Adam Browning of Vote Solar, at RENEW Wisconsin’s “Clean Energy Goes Mainstream” Summit.

Minnesota’s solar capacity had a breakthrough year in 2016

RENEWABLES: A new report lists Iowa, Illinois and Ohio as leaders in removing barriers to corporate access to renewable energy. (Midwest Energy News)

SOLAR:
• Minnesota’s solar capacity skyrocketed last year, jumping from 35 megawatts in 2015 to 250 megawatts in 2016. (Minnesota Public Radio)
• Some business owners in South Dakota believe the state’s market for rooftop solar is beginning to change. (Sioux Falls Argus Leader)
• A 7-megawatt solar project begins operating at the site of a former steel manufacturing site in central Indiana. (Kokomo Perspective)
• A Minnesota university continues to expand a solar project first built in 2009.

Wisconsin tribe seeks to remove pipeline from reservation

OHIO: In new filings last week, consumer advocacy groups seek stronger state regulation over submetering companies that buy and resell electricity. (Midwest Energy News)

CLEAN TECH: Eight student-led startups based at Midwest universities are selected to compete for tens of thousands of dollars in cleantech investment funding. (Midwest Energy News)

***SPONSORED LINK: Join Dairyland Power Cooperative CEO Barbara Nick and the “Michael Jordan of solar policy,” Adam Browning of Vote Solar, at RENEW Wisconsin’s “Clean Energy Goes Mainstream” Summit. Thursday, Jan. 19 in Madison.

An Illinois town foresees its future as a nuclear waste dump

POLICY:
• National researchers find that while renewable energy goals add costs, they “more than make up for it in avoiding pollution and saving water.” (EnergyWire)
• North Dakota Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer is still in position to shape energy policy under the Trump administration. (Greenwire)

NUCLEAR: The prospect of long-term waste storage at a closed nuclear plant site dims economic hopes for an Illinois town. (Chicago Sun-Times)

***SPONSORED LINK: Connect with more than 650 of the region’s best and brightest at MEEA’s 2017 Midwest Energy Solutions Conference, February 22-24 in Chicago, featuring unparalleled networking, insightful panels and more. Register today!***

COAL: Southern Illinois residents are hopeful about an industry turnaround under President-elect Trump. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

PIPELINES:
• The Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council is expressing concerns about sanitation and potential flooding at the Dakota Access protest site.

Great Plains grid operator seeks to sell electricity to Canada

FRACKING: A federal forecast predicts increased natural gas production will make the U.S. a net energy exporter by 2026. (Reuters)

GRID:
• A 76-year-old power plant at an Illinois university is under consideration for a carbon capture project, highlighting the challenge of adapting aging infrastructure to modern climate initiatives. (Midwest Energy News)
• The Southwest Power Pool seeks permission to sell electricity into Canada. (Utility Dive)

***SPONSORED LINK: The Smart Cities International Symposium, January 24-25 in Chicago, examines the latest technology advances and business models for the 21st Century connected city. Explore implementation strategies, case studies, and the successful financing of key initiatives.