OHIO: Experts say Ohio’s energy law “freeze” will harm job growth in the state, and critics turn out in force at a hearing over FirstEnergy’s plan to guarantee income for older power plants. (Midwest Energy News, Cleveland Plain Dealer)

MINNESOTA: An advocacy group’s study finds increasing the state’s renewable energy standard to 40 percent would add billions to the state’s economy while having a minimal impact on ratepayers. (Midwest Energy News)

***SPONSORED LINK: The Midwest Energy Solutions Conference is the largest event of its kind in the region. This event attracts a diverse assemblage of thought leaders from around the nation who share a passion for energy efficiency.***

COAL: After an 8-year fight, developers drop plans for a new coal strip mine in Illinois; and two companies seek to open new mines in Ohio. (Springfield State Journal-Register, Platts)

• A Canadian solar manufacturer expands into Minnesota. (St. Paul Pioneer Press) 
• Officials in a rural Minnesota community may seek a moratorium against a utility-scale solar project. (Minnesota Public Radio)
• NRG Energy says it will “own” the solar sector. (Forbes)
• Solar power will be on the agenda at this year’s Wisconsin Farm Bureau Wisconsin Farmers Union convention. (Chippewa Herald)

POLITICS: Senate Democrats’ attempt to put Republicans on the record on climate change doesn’t work out as planned, and vocal climate denier Sen. James Inhofe takes control of the Environment and Public Works committee. (Politico, The Hill)

• OPEC expects oil prices to rebound. (Bloomberg)
• Nearly 3 million gallons of brine spill from a North Dakota pipeline. (Associated Press)
• The Yellowstone River spill raises new concerns about pipeline safety, as North Dakota officials test drinking water as a precaution. (Associated Press, Bismarck Tribune)
• A worker is found dead on a catwalk at a North Dakota oil tank site. (Bismarck Tribune)
• A drilling company blames vandalism for a 250-barrel oil spill in North Dakota. (Associated Press)
• The U.S. House approves a bill to fast-track natural gas pipelines. (Associated Press)

FRAC SAND: Wisconsin officials consider an update to a 2012 frac sand mining study. (La Crosse Tribune)

NUCLEAR: Federal regulators say there is no “chilled work environment” at a Michigan nuclear plant, and a possible water leak takes an Illinois reactor offline. (MLive, Bloomington Pantagraph)

GRID: Developers of the Grain Belt Express transmission line seek customers, and FERC appeals a demand response case to the Supreme Court. (Kansas City Star, Greentech Media)

***SPONSORED LINK: Minnesota’s biggest community-based energy event only happens every two years–don’t miss it! Register now for CERTs 2015 Conference: Community-Driven Clean Energy on March 10-11 in St. Cloud. ***

NATURAL GAS: A Wisconsin utility files for permission to build a 400 MW natural gas unit. (Green Bay Press-Gazette)

COMMENTARY: How to interpret Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s comments on energy. (Crain’s Detroit Business)

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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