• Ohio-based coal giant Murray Energy says it may lay off 80 percent of its workforce, or about 4,400 employees, across six states due to federal regulations and increased reliance on natural gas. (Huffington Post)
• Backers of a federal bill to protect coal miners’ health and retirement benefits are facing opposition in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. (USA Today)

• Developers say they are encountering persistent problems in hooking up community solar projects into Xcel Energy’s grid. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
• A Minnesota solar project will be one of the first “pollinator-friendly solar sites” in the U.S. (Hastings Star Gazette)

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• A ruling last month by federal regulators may expand access to renewable energy for rural electric cooperatives and municipal utilities. (Midwest Energy News)
• A public relations expert discusses the unique messaging challenges for renewable energy projects. (Midwest Energy News)

UTILITIES: Regulatory staff in Ohio recommend allowing FirstEnergy to recover $131 million annually from ratepayers for three to five years in order to maintain the company’s credit rating; opponents call it “an unnecessary subsidy.” (RTO Insider)

CLEAN POWER PLAN: In order to line up with the Clean Power Plan, Minnesota regulators push back until 2022 the date when utilities must factor in carbon dioxide regulation costs into their long-range plans. (EnergyWire)

• Well pads in western North Dakota are getting bigger to maximize production in the Bakken oil patch. (Forum News Service)
• A fifth defendant pleads guilty to violating the federal Clean Water Act for his role in dumping oil-field waste into an Ohio river more than three years ago. (Youngstown Vindicator)
• The recent sale of a North Dakota oil refinery has not deterred the developer who is planning to build one near Theodore Roosevelt National Park. (Dickinson Press)

FRAC SAND: Opponents turn out for the first public meeting on a proposed frac-sand ban in an eastern Minnesota county. (Winona Daily News)

BIOFUELS: An increasing amount of imported biofuels made from soybeans means the U.S. sector is shrinking. (Bloomberg News)

EMISSIONS: The U.S. EPA says it doesn’t have enough information to determine whether two Missouri counties exceed federal sulfur dioxide pollution limits. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

PIPELINES: Construction on the Dakota Access oil pipeline has brought an influx of temporary workers and a boost to local businesses in southern North Dakota. (KXNews)

TRANSPORTATION: Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder calls for a “wholesale revision” of how the state’s transportation revenue is divvied up after he vetoed a bill that had unanimous support among his fellow Republicans. (Associated Press)

WIND: A worker in Kansas is seriously injured after falling 120 feet while repairing a wind turbine. (Associated Press)

FINANCE: An eastern Michigan county becomes the next in the state to adopt Property Assessed Clean Energy financing. (Midland Daily News)

• Wisconsin regulators order Xcel Energy to refund customers $9.5 million for overpayments, but the company may still be raising rates in 2017. (Eau Claire Leader-Telegram)
• St. Louis-based Ameren files for a $206 million rate increase, “launching what figures to be a protracted tug-of-war process” with opponents. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

SUSTAINABILITY: Cedar Rapids, Iowa, hires its first sustainability coordinator to tackle cost savings in part through energy-related projects. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

• The municipally owned utility in Marquette, Michigan should not make hasty decisions as it revises rates for solar generation. (Marquette Mining Journal)
• In Illinois, the nuclear age comes to a creaking halt. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Andy compiles the Midwest Energy News digest and was a journalism fellow for Midwest Energy News from 2014-2020. He is managing editor of MiBiz in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and was formerly a reporter and editor at City Pulse, Lansing’s alternative newsweekly.

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