EFFICIENCY: Illinois’ new building code — one of the strictest in the U.S. — went into effect on January 1, creating headaches for some home builders, but also opportunities for others in the construction sector. (Midwest Energy News)

SOLAR: Minnesota’s largest solar array goes online, a new 1.1 MW solar project is nearly complete in an area of Cleveland known as the “Forgotten Triangle,” and an Omaha homeowner is forced to remove $40,000 worth of solar panels from his roof after a legal dispute with his homeowners association. (Minneapolis Star Tribune, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Omaha World-Herald)

FRACKING: An EPA study of fracking’s impact on groundwater will have significant limitations; a panel to study drilling in Ohio state parks is more than a year behind schedule; and leasing activity continues in Illinois, with the state legislature expected to take up regulations this spring. (Associated Press, Columbus Dispatch, Springfield State Journal-Register)

CONGRESS: What to expect in federal energy policy in the coming year. (InsideClimate News)

KEYSTONE XL: Nebraska’s final impact report on Keystone XL finds no major environmental issues with the pipeline’s new route. (Omaha World-Herald)

WIND: Despite an extension of federal tax credits, other obstacles continue to hold back wind energy development in South Dakota. (Sioux Falls Argus Leaders)

COAL: Neighbors are frustrated with the slow pace of reclamation at an Illinois coal mine site. (Champaign News-Gazette)

TRANSPORTATION: A study finds ridership of intercity rail in Missouri, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan grew 35 percent over the last five years. (Chicago Sun-Times)

COMMENTARY: Where does Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel stand on climate change? (Grist)

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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