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Despite climate pledge, Minnesota companies still backing science-denying lawmakers

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EFFICIENCY: Politics are driving more Midwest states away from clean energy standards, but states throughout the region are being recognized for tackling energy efficiency through a variety of sectors. (Midwest Energy News)

COAL: Roughly 12,500 coal-mining families — including about 3,500 in southern Illinois — who worked at Patriot Coal and its predecessors are notified they will lose health care benefits by Dec. 31 without congressional action. (Associated Press, Southern Illinoisan)

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CLIMATE:
• Minnesota corporations that signed on to a climate change pledge last year “still contribute to politicians who say climate change is a hoax or exaggerated.” (Minnesota Public Radio)
• Environmental groups in Minnesota ask the federal government for a more thorough analysis of potential climate change impacts from a proposed copper-nickel mine. (Minnesota Public Radio)
• Climate change was “treated as an afterthought” in the second presidential debate. (InsideClimate News)

FRAC SAND: After five years, a Minnesota county is expected to vote this month on whether to ban frac sand mining operations. (Winona Daily News)

TRANSMISSION: A Wisconsin town seeks to overturn state regulators’ approval of two high-voltage transmission lines, saying the decision infringes on property rights and creates an unnecessary financial risk. (LaCrosse Tribune)

RENEWABLES: Michigan’s two largest utilities dispute claims that they are de-emphasizing renewable energy investment. (Detroit Free Press)

NATURAL GAS: Increased excavation and construction in Lincoln, Nebraska may be to blame for higher rates of reported natural gas leaks, officials say. (Lincoln Journal-Star)

ELECTRIC VEHICLES: EV sales set a quarterly record in the U.S., up 60 percent in the third quarter over the same period last year. (Gas2)

ECONOMY: Michigan’s energy-sector economy is expected to increase hiring even as oil and natural gas prices remain low. (Detroit Free Press)

SOLAR: A Minneapolis-based company that sells power-backup products is expanding as it looks to develop more solar generation in the state. (Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal)

PIPELINES: A Wisconsin county sheriff says his decision to send deputies to help with Dakota Access pipeline protests in North Dakota is “about public safety.” (WISC-TV)

UTILITIES:
• A Missouri-based utility announces an agreement with Kansas regulators that clears the way for the utility’s planned $2.4 billion merger with a Canadian company. (Joplin Globe)
• Iowa utilities ramp up recruiting efforts for transmission line mechanics amid a declining number of workers in the field. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)
• Energy giant Shell is seeking regulatory approval to sell electricity to large industrial users in Ohio. (Columbus Business First)
• An official with Detroit-based DTE Energy says he’s “not worried” about meeting capacity needs as coal plants close. (Detroit Free Press)

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RATES: A new U.S. Energy Information Administration report shows residential electric bills decreased for the first time since 2002, though another increase is expected next year. (Grist)

COMMENTARY: Michigan conservative groups criticize the state’s opposition to Tesla’s selling cars directly to customers there, amid a broader push for clean energy development. (Midwest Energy News)

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