COAL: A heavily coal-dependent Minnesota utility plans to shut down one coal-fired unit and convert another power plant to natural gas, with a long-term plan to get two-thirds of its power from natural gas or renewables. (Duluth News Tribune)

ALSO: Midwest Generation asks regulators for more time to install mandatory pollution controls on its four Illinois coal-fired power plants, critics say the company is just trying to cut costs before eventually shutting the plants down. (Midwest Energy News)

*** SPONSORED LINK: Dr. James Hansen will keynote the Sustainability Summit & Exposition, March 6-8 in Milwaukee. Register today! ***

WIND: Wind surpassed all other energy sources for new installed capacity last year, as developers raced to take advantage of an expiring tax credit. (The Hill)

POLITICS: Wind and solar industry groups drop their memberships in ALEC as the organization seeks to dismantle state renewable energy mandates, and an applicant for Ohio’s public utilities commission is criticized for changing her party affiliation to match the opening on the board. (Greenwire, Cleveland Plain Dealer)

OIL: North Dakota farmers seek longer setbacks from oil wells: “just give us some breathing room and we’ll give you some breathing room”; the White House targets tax breaks for the oil and gas industry; and Ohio’s supreme court rules the state’s oil and gas regulators can’t review fracking permits issued by another agency. (Dickinson Press, The Hill, Columbus Dispatch)

ALSO: Two Republican senators ask Attorney General Eric Holder why oil drilling operations are being prosecuted for bird deaths, but wind farms are not. (The Hill)

MICHIGAN: Republican legislators say they plan to make lowering electricity rates a priority, targeting a 2008 law that restricts competition in the marketplace. (Detroit Free Press)

EFFICIENCY: Organizers share lessons learned from a block-by-block retrofit program in Murray City, Ohio. (Forbes)

COMMENTARY: Which kills more birds: Wind farms or cats? (Mother Jones)

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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