Ohio regulators allow FirstEnergy ‘bailout’ to move forward

WIND: Missouri regulators deny a permit to develop the Grain Belt Express clean energy transmission project, even though they agree it would be in the public interest. (Midwest Energy News)

FRACKING: The first filing of a permit to do hydraulic fracturing in Illinois could be a test case for how rigorously the state enforces a new law passed four years ago. (Midwest Energy News)

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UTILITIES: Ohio regulators reject multiple appeals to a decision last year giving FirstEnergy an extra $204 million a year for five years that critics say could be used to prop up coal and nuclear plants. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

SMART GRID:
• A new report says regulators should use caution when approving time-of-use rates for residential utility customers to “ensure more vulnerable customers are not left higher bills they can’t control.” (Utility Dive)
• American Electric Power is set to begin installing 900,000 smart meters for customers across Ohio. (Columbus Dispatch)

PIPELINES: Four people accused of trespassing and tampering with Enbridge pipeline valves in Minnesota said they had to prevent the movement of tar sands oil in order to “mitigate catastrophic climate change and its effects on public health and the natural environment.” (Echo Journal)

CLIMATE: A panel of experts gather in Michigan to discuss what it means for the U.S. and the state by pulling out of the Paris climate agreement.

Flaring from natural gas wells in North Dakota is increasing

OHIO: As the Ohio legislative session resumes next month, subsidies for nuclear generation and 1950s-era coal plants are expected to once again be on the table. (Midwest Energy News)

OIL AND GAS: Flaring from natural gas wells in North Dakota is increasing, “blunting the state’s efforts to tame a problem that came to symbolize the excesses of the oil boom.” (E&E News)

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CLEAN TECH: A workshop in Chicago aims to inspire girls to pursue careers in clean energy.

In Indiana, a rush to install solar projects before net metering changes take effect

SOLAR:
• The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe install a fifth solar project on its reservation in Minnesota to help low-income residents. (Bemidji Pioneer)
• Organizers in an Indiana city are launching an effort to get new solar installation contracts signed ahead of net metering changes. (Indiana Public Media)

CLEAN ENERGY:
• The University of Minnesota has a “multi-pronged” approach to long-term clean energy investments, culminating in a goal of being carbon neutral by 2050. (Midwest Energy News)
• The Michigan Agency for Energy is offering $100,000 in grants to entities that launch energy efficiency or renewable energy projects with a public benefit. (The Peninsula)
• Utility officials gathered in Wisconsin discuss how clean energy can translate into lower rates for customers.

Developers pursue South Dakota’s first utility-scale solar project

RENEWABLES: Critics say an Iowa utility’s proposed green-pricing program comes with a high premium with no guarantee that it will lead to additional renewable energy. (Midwest Energy News)

SOLAR: Developers are moving forward with plans for a 52-megawatt solar project in South Dakota, which would be the state’s first utility-scale array. (Hot Springs Star)

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EPA administrator holds closed-door meetings, questions climate science while in North Dakota

SOLAR: Advocates in Ohio are leading a new program that aims to reduce the “soft costs” of residential solar installations in the state’s Appalachian coal region. (Midwest Energy News)

ALSO:
• In response to upcoming net metering changes, officials in Bloomington, Indiana vote to fast-track plans to install solar panels at 30 different sites by the end of the year. (Indiana Public Media)
• A series of solar installations are under construction in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to power drinking water booster stations. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)
• A YMCA in Illinois is planning to save $3,000 a year after installing solar panels on the roof. (Bloomington Pantagraph)
• Across the country, state utility regulators are revisiting net metering policies and are not necessarily receptive to utility proposals.

Report: Michigan ratepayers could save billions in transition to electric vehicles

SOLAR:
• A new law in Indiana is jeopardizing schools’ ability to lower their energy costs by installing solar panels. (WBOI)
• Cedar Rapids, Iowa installs solar panels to power drinking water stations around the city. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)
• An Iowa Catholic church installs solar panels “as a part of Pope Francis’ call to care for the earth.” (WHO-TV)

ENERGY EFFICIENCY: Some Midwest cities receive credit for expanding energy efficiency programs for low-income residents. (Governing Magazine)

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ELECTRIC VEHICLES:
• A new report finds Michigan ratepayers could save billions of dollars over the coming decades with a shift to more electric vehicles.

Michigan agencies say Mackinac pipeline report needs major revisions

EMISSIONS: Public health advocates say Minnesota utility regulators’ decision last month to increase the social cost of carbon will be important for dealing with the negative health impacts of climate change. (Midwest Energy News)

WIND:
• New data from the U.S. Department of Energy show Minnesota wind energy capacity grew about 9 percent last year. (Minnesota Public Radio)
• A new federal report ranks Ohio sixth in the country for small-scale, distributed wind installations, behind Minnesota and Iowa. (Columbus Business First)
• New wind projects are cutting into Nebraska’s coal consumption, which peaked in 2013. (Marketplace)

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Keystone XL hearings open with Nebraska landowner concerns

ENERGY EFFICIENCY: Ameren Illinois’ request to scale back energy efficiency targets under a sweeping energy law passed last year is rooted, in part, in the longstanding divide between the Chicago area and “downstate” Illinois. (Midwest Energy News)

PIPELINES:
• Attorneys representing Nebraska landowners question company officials looking to build the Keystone XL pipeline during the opening day of public hearings. (Lincoln Journal Star)
• As Keystone XL hearings proceed, “the question of how the pipeline could affect the famed Ogallala Aquifer looms large.” (E&E News)
• Activists are descending on Nebraska this week as Keystone XL hearings continue. (Grist)

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CLEAN ENERGY: Officials in Ann Arbor, Michigan are considering a countywide tax that would help fund clean energy initiatives, including solar on city buildings and electric vehicles for public employees. (MLive)

NUCLEAR: A University of Chicago professor who specializes in energy policy says Illinois’ zero-emissions credit program for nuclear plants is “short-sighted and will be problematic for taxpayers.” (Cook County Record)

RENEWABLES: The utility arm of Berkshire Hathaway has been pushing back against a federal law that requires utilities in states to purchase renewable energy from independent producers.

Midwest solar companies face uncertainty over Suniva trade complaint

CLEAN ENERGY: Chicago’s Southeast Side and Newton, Iowa — both with a history of thriving industries — offer contrasting tales of using clean energy to rebuild the local economy. (Midwest Energy News)

UTILITIES: A Wisconsin farmer wins a case against Xcel Energy over stray voltage negatively impacting his cattle, leading to the largest award in state history. (LaCrosse Tribune)

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Nebraska Keystone XL hearings will not consider market need for project

CLEAN ENERGY: A Michigan-based developer is basing future plans on a “new affordability” model that combines affordable rents, clean energy and access to public transportation. (Midwest Energy News)

BIOFUELS: Starting in May, biofuels in Minnesota will need to contain a mix of 20 percent soybeans or other renewable sources, which officials say will cut carbon dioxide emissions by 1 million tons next year. (Minnesota Public Radio)

***SPONSORED LINK: Dream of Driving Electric? The Illinois Solar Energy Association is raffling a 2017 Tesla Model X! Only 2,500 tickets sold. 1 for $100, 4 for $300.