CLIMATE: 2012 was the hottest year ever recorded in the United States, with the year’s average temperature a full degree hotter than the previous record set in 1998. (New York Times)

SOLAR: A bill to require 10 percent of Minnesota’s electricity to come from solar will be at the top of the legislature’s clean energy agenda this year. (Midwest Energy News)

WIND: Xcel Energy and the American Wind Energy Association downplay comments by an Xcel lobbyist implying the utility is considering a split with the industry group. (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

OIL: The head of the American Petroleum Institute says the United States is “at the crossroads of a great turning point” in its energy history, and calls for the federal government not to take away industry tax breaks. (New York Times)

ALSO: Minnesota environmentalists oppose expansion of an Enbridge pipeline in the state, and Wichita officials consider allowing oil drilling on city-owned land near downtown. (Minnesota Public Radio, KSN-TV)

NUCLEAR: Federal regulators still have no timetable for restarting the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant in Nebraska, which has been shut down since April 2011 because of flooding and a string of safety problems. (Associated Press)

COAL: Illinois’ coal industry saw its production increase in 2012, and increasingly sees exports as its future. (Carbondale Southern)

TRANSPORTATION: Iowa considers increasing its registration fee for electric vehicles, which has stood at $25 since 1927. (Quad-City Times)

GEOTHERMAL: An Illinois school considers a $4.5 million geothermal project to replace its aging heating system. (Chicago Tribune)

COMMENTARY: How transmission constraints continue to hold back wind development in the Midwest. (Reuters)

Ken is the director of the Energy News Network at Fresh Energy and is a founding editor of both Midwest Energy News and Southeast Energy News. Prior to joining Fresh Energy, he was the managing editor for online news at Minnesota Public Radio. He started his journalism career in 2002 as a copy editor for the Duluth News Tribune before spending five years at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, where he worked as a copy editor, online producer, features editor and night city editor. A Nebraska native, Ken has a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master's degree from the University of Oregon. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.

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