COAL: An electric cooperative will retire coal-fired burners at a western Kentucky power plant in 2022 and replace them with natural gas units to comply with federal environmental regulations. (WFPL)

• North Carolina regulators renew an air quality permit for a coal plant at the University of North Carolina while declining to cap the amount of fuel it can use. (Indy Week)
• Tennessee county commissioners decide not to close a playground following a study that found coal ash contamination from a Tennessee Valley Authority power plant next door. (WBIR)

PIPELINES: Ten people are arrested after a group of about 100 protesters create a human blockade to impede work at a Mountain Valley Pipeline construction site in western Virginia. (Roanoke Times)

ELECTRIC VEHICLES: Georgia pays $61 million for an undeveloped 2,240-acre property that could become an auto factory as part of the governor’s initiative to pursue economic development by the electric vehicle industry. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

CLIMATE: A dire study of global climate change arrives as lawmakers in climate-vulnerable North Carolina debate an energy bill that could shape carbon emissions and as state agencies try to meet the governor’s clean energy goals. (Raleigh News & Observer)

HYDROGEN: Energy giant Southern Company, as well as Georgia manufacturers and equipment suppliers, invest to become foundational players in the newly developing hydrogen fuel industry. (Atlanta Business Chronicle)

TRANSITION: West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice revives a state board with broad powers to affect natural gas, coal and electric power projects, but may have violated state law limiting the number of appointees associated with industries the board directly affects. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)

• The Texas transportation department, a group of energy companies and other partners will spend $844 million on roads, workforce development and other infrastructure in the Permian Basin, signaling confidence in the shale industry after production was curtailed last year. (Bloomberg)
• Federal regulators levy a $2.2 million fine over a 2018 leak at a Louisiana liquefied natural gas export terminal. (E&E News, subscription)

SOLAR: Microsoft agrees to buy power from a 430 MW solar farm in Texas. (Renews)

UTILITIES: The news that Tampa Electric Co. will retire three coal units and double its solar output obscures the utility’s continued reliance on natural gas for the majority of its energy. (Electrek)

• President Joe Biden’s clean energy initiatives provide an opportunity to retrain existing fossil fuel workers for high-wage jobs, writes the founder of a company using online education to train people for clean energy jobs. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)
• The legacy of AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, who died last week, includes a successful strike against Pittston Coal in southwestern Virginia in which miners adopted the civil disobedience tactics of the civil rights movement, writes an editorial board. (Roanoke Times)
• Georgia is close to hitting state regulators’ cap on rooftop solar that will dramatically limit rates for surplus solar power, writes the CEO of a solar installation company. (Georgia Recorder)
• A 300 MW solar project is part of a wave of projects that could see longtime oil giant Louisiana begin a pivot toward renewables, writes a columnist. (Triple Pundit)

Mason has worked as a journalist since 2001, covering Appalachian communities and the issues that affect them. He compiles the Southeast Energy News digest. Mason previously worked as a wildlife biologist before moving into journalism by freelancing at Coast Weekly in Monterey, California, before taking an internship in 2001 at High Country News. He wrote for the Enterprise Mountaineer in western North Carolina and the Roanoke Times in western Virginia before going freelance in 2012. His work has appeared in Southerly, Daily Yonder, Mother Jones, Huffington Post, WVPB’s Inside Appalachia and elsewhere. Mason was born and raised in Clifton Forge, Virginia, and now lives with his family and a small herd of goats in Floyd County, Virginia.