With massive grid outages drawing more attention to the risks of climate change, the rise of Hot FERC Summer, and a monthslong debate in Congress over cutting emissions, energy and climate issues were prominent in the news throughout 2021.
At the Energy News Network we amplify those important stories in our newsletters, but in our original reporting we remain focused on state and local issues that otherwise might not see news coverage. Some of these stories generate national attention. Others keep a lower profile.
This week, for our annual year-end list, the editorial team at ENN picked 12 stories from the past year we want to make sure you didn’t overlook.
Thank you for reading, and we’ll see you in 2022!
A Chicago entrepreneur is developing “LCD 2.0” technology that could make small screens easier to read and more efficient: “We can have devices that last multiple days on a battery charge and look great in the bright sun. A lot of people don’t realize this is possible.” (Katie Pyzyk, Centered.tech, Jan. 27)
“We’re interested in our local community, not being millionaires:” Volunteers in rural Virginia help to install solar power on Habitat for Humanity homes. (Elizabeth McGowan, March 29)
The farmworkers that help put food on our tables not only face difficult working conditions, they also have to resort to housing options that are in poor condition, and even dangerous. A former migrant laborer from Mexico is helping to lead an effort in Vermont to use energy-efficient design principles to develop worker housing that is affordable, comfortable and safe. (David Thill, May 3)
In 2015, a newly constructed Ohio elementary school had to be evacuated after a leaking abandoned gas well was discovered under the gym floor. A researcher is using drones to map thousands of orphan wells throughout the state, dating back to the 1800s. (Kathiann Kowalski, May 10)
While electrification of transportation is critical to fighting climate change, it’s important to remember that tailpipe emissions aren’t the only impact from shipping hubs. (Audrey Henderson, June 14)
While HOA restrictions on solar power are common across the country, this story takes a step further and examines the restrictive covenants’ roots in 1960s housing discrimination. (Elizabeth Ouzts, July 6)
While modernization has generally made coal mining safer, it’s still dangerous work. In a five-part series, we look at the risks that miners still face and the impact it has on their families and communities. (Kari Lydersen, July 12)
Rural cooperatives don’t often get credit for leading on the clean energy transition, but their community-based governing structure and small size can make them more nimble than big utilities. (Frank Jossi, Aug. 26)
Solar power can help farmers make money from otherwise marginal land. Could the plants growing beneath the panels provide another income stream through carbon credits? (Karen Uhlenhuth, Sept. 8)
A Detroit law promised residents a voice in redevelopment projects. Many say their concerns remain unheard
Detroit city officials are hungry for development, and a 2016 law intended to give communities a more prominent voice in the process. But activists say the policy has holes that prevent it from working as intended. (Rukiya Colvin, Sept. 28)
A New England utility is experimenting with using grocery store freezers as a demand response resource. (Lisa Prevost, Oct. 5)
In dense urban areas, solar may soon start popping up in unexpected places. A pilot project on Interstate 95 just outside Boston aims to take advantage of the dead space on freeway sound walls to generate clean energy, (Sarah Shemkus, Nov. 3)