Daily digest

Chicago coal plants close as city launches efficiency plan

EFFICIENCY: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is kicking off his $1.7 billion Infrastructure Trust, a sweeping plan to finance energy efficiency projects in municipal buildings using private investment dollars. It’s being touted as a groundbreaking effort to cut the city’s carbon footprint by increasing energy efficiency. (Midwest Energy News)

COAL: Meanwhile, it’s also the end of an era in Chicago as two coal-burning power plants shutdown this week. The power plants’ owner opted not to pay for expensive upgrades to meet federal air standards. Chicago was the only major U.S. city with two coal plants operating within its borders. (Chicago Tribune)

MORE COAL: Today is the day the Kansas Supreme Court is expected to hear legal arguments over a proposed 895-megawatt coal plant in western Kansas. Industry experts say the project is probably doomed regardless of the court’s decision. (Kansas City Star)

COGENERATION: President Obama issued an executive order Thursday that would increase the number of cogeneration plants in the U.S. by 50 percent by 2020. The order directs federal agencies to coordinate policies to courage industrial efficiency through combined power and heat. (Reuters)

TRANSMISSION: The Rock Island Clean Line, a 500-mile, high-voltage DC transmission project from northwestern Iowa to the Chicago area, is expected to create thousands of construction jobs. The developer held open houses this week to meet with construction companies and other vendors that want in on the $1.7 billion project. (Quad-City Times)

COAL ASH: A historic, coal-powered ferry service has applied for a permit extension to continue dumping coal ash into Lake Michigan. The operator says its looking for technology to eliminate the discharges but it needs more time to avoid postponing its 2013 season. (The Muskegon Chronicle)

SMART METERS: With conspiracy theorists already up at arms, this isn’t the kind of press smart meters need: Chicago’s ComEd utility says faulty installations caused three digital smart meters to overheat and catch fire in customers homes. (Chicago Sun-Times)

GAS PRICES: Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is warning gas stations against gouging customers in the wake of Tropical Storm Isaac. Meanwhile, one Gulf Coast refinery reported flooding but most oil and gas companies were preparing to restart operations Thursday. (Associated Press/Reuters)

BIODIESEL: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday that U.S. biodiesel production this year is on track to match the 1.1 billion gallons produced last year. (The Des Moines Register)

COMMENTARY: Brad Plumer at the Washington Post writes that Mitt Romney’s goal of U.S. energy independence will be tough to accomplish without the Obama administration’s new fuel-economy standards, which Romney has opposed. Also, Plumer compares the GOP’s 2012 energy/climate platform to its positions four years ago. (Washington Post)

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