SOLAR: Minnesota regulators say a propose $250 million solar project may be a better deal for ratepayers than natural gas, and order Xcel Energy to pursue power purchase agreements with the developer. (Midwest Energy News)

EFFICIENCY: Indiana’s efficiency program will come to an end this year after Gov. Mike Pence declines to act on a bill to repeal it, which allows the bill to become law. (Indianapolis Star)

***SPONSORED LINK: The 2014 Clean Energy Challenge business plan competition on April 3 awards $500,000 in prizes to innovative Midwest clean tech startups! Hear keynote speakers David Crane and Tom Steyer. Use code “MEN_Newsletter” & register today! ***

OHIO: Republican lawmakers will introduce a bill today to “freeze” the state’s renewable energy and efficiency standards, FirstEnergy is rallying industrial and commercial customers in support of the bill. (Columbus Dispatch, Cleveland Plain Dealer)

OIL: BP officials double the estimate of the amount of oil that spilled into Lake Michigan from a refinery near Chicago, as Illinois’ U.S. senators call for a meeting with the company; and cleanup continues at two oil spill sites in North Dakota. (Chicago Sun-Times, Associated Press)

COAL: Iowa officials order a Muscatine grain processor to pay a record $1.5 million fine for pollution violations, and to convert its boilers from coal to natural gas. (Muscatine Journal)

ALSO: A meeting to discuss a southern Illinois road closure turns into a contentious public forum on coal mining. (Carbondale Southern)

COAL ASH: Aerial photos show North Carolina regulators overlooked a massive crack in a dam at a Duke Energy coal ash facility, as the utility’s investors call for an investigation of a February coal ash spill. (Associated Press, Raleigh News & Observer)

WIND: A study finds U.S. wind installations fell by 93 percent in 2013. (Houston Chronicle)

MORE SOLAR: Iowa’s Senate approves a bill expanding the state’s solar credit program, solar installations at Illinois county buildings aren’t paying off as expected, and a Manitoba couple takes their rural home off the grid rather than pay $60,000 for a utility connection. (Des Moines Register, Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette, Winnipeg Free Press)

DATA: A Milwaukee developer’s new application aims to give consumers more control over their energy use, and a bill in the U.S. Senate would create incentives for utilities to provide customers with more access to data about their energy use. (Midwest Energy News, The Hill)

WASTE-TO-ENERGY: Why waste-to-energy may be the way forward for renewable power in Wisconsin. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

HYDROPOWER: Some Minnesota ratepayers could see bills go up to pay for an Iowa hydroelectric dam. (Fargo Forum)

***SPONSORED LINK: Attend “Solar Powering Illinois” on April 8.  Sessions on shared solar, IL RPS, solar in municipal aggregation and more. Keynotes include Dr. Elaine Ulrich, U.S. DOE, and Mike Hornitschek, StraightUp Solar. NABCEP credits provided.***

UTILITIES: Exelon and Dynegy are among utilities considered most vulnerable to the “death spiral,” according to a new report. (Forbes)

COMMENTARY: Why freezing Ohio’s energy laws would not be in the best interest of consumers. (The Equation)

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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