COAL: Minnesota regulators will require Xcel Energy to study the possibility of closing two of its largest coal-burning units by 2020. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

ALSO: FERC officials tell Congress the Midwest’s dependence on coal will make its grid vulnerable as tougher pollution rules take effect, and Ohio-based Murray Energy closes a deal to buy five West Virginia coal mines. (Greenwire, Charleston Gazette)

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ALEC: The American Legislative Exchange Council will vote today on model legislation that would target residential solar power and EPA carbon rules. (E&E Daily)

WILDLIFE: The White House is close to finalizing a rule that would authorize 30-year eagle “take permits” for wind farms, oil rigs and transmission lines. (The Hill)

TRANSMISSION: Xcel Energy plans to create a separate subsidiary to build new transmission lines. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

EFFICIENCY: A new for-profit company in Grand Forks, North Dakota will work closely with a nonprofit to weatherize homes for families who don’t qualify for low-income assistance. (Grand Forks Herald)

OIL: Railroads face obstacles shipping North Dakota crude oil to the West Coast. (Wall Street Journal)

FRACKING: Ohio’s shale production is expected to accelerate rapidly over the next few years as pipeline infrastructure is build. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

NATURAL GAS: A new report says rapid industrial expansion fueled by cheap natural gas may be canceling out emissions gains from shutting down coal plants, and a case before Michigan regulators could determine the fate of a proposed 700 MW natural gas plant. (Huffington Post, Michigan Land Use Institute)

HYDRO: A hydroelectric dam operated by a Wisconsin college is expected to begin generating power this spring. (Wisconsin Public Radio)

COMMENTARY: Five ways wind energy can survive without the production tax credit, efficiency pays off in Illinois, and how clean energy saves lives in Ohio. (Christian Science Monitor, Crain’s Chicago Business, Crain’s Cleveland 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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