COAL ASH: Duke Energy pleaded guilty yesterday to federal criminal charges for coal ash violations in North Carolina, and will pay a $102 million fine, the largest in state history. (New York Times, Charlotte Business Journal)

• Duke admits in court that a $20,000 inspection could have prevented the Dan River coal ash spill. (Charlotte Business Journal)
• As part of its plea agreement, Duke will continue to cooperate in an investigation of the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. (Charlotte Business Journal)

• Federal regulators reject a request for more hearings on the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
• A developer makes an additional plea for approval of a Georgia natural gas pipeline, a closer look at the record finds the company has made misleading statements in the past. (Florida Times-Union, Savannah Morning News)

• Coastal residents in Mississippi, Virginia and other places will protest offshore drilling tomorrow. (Mississippi Public Broadcasting, Virginian-Pilot)
• The developer of a Gulf Coast natural gas export terminal says it was warned by the Department of Energy that it “would not be politically correct” to sign on Chinese customers. (Bloomberg) 

• Construction begins on a 30 MW solar farm at a Georgia army base. (Augusta Chronicle)
• The owner of a Virginia hunting preserve says he now supports a proposed solar project. (Fauquier Now)
• The Department of Veteran Affairs inspector general will investigate a solar project at an Arkansas hospital that has never been activated. (Arkansas News)

COAL: West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, along with Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, introduce bills to promote “clean coal.” (Charleston State Journal)

POLLUTION: While a challenge to federal mercury regulations awaits its day at the Supreme Court, most power plants are already in compliance with the rules. (SNL)

GRID: Entergy says its customers have saved $250 million in its first year as part of the Midcontinent Independent Transmission System Operator. (Associated Press)

TRANSMISSION: A Virginia utility pushes back against assertions that it misled the public about the height of new transmission towers. (Waynesboro News Virginian)

POLITICS: Conservative clean-energy activists find support from environmental organizations. (Reuters)

HYDROPOWER: A stakeholder group drafts an agreement that could settle a three-state dispute over operation of dams on the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system. (Jacksonville Business Journal)

UTILITIES: Louisiana utilities admit to being unprepared for outages resulting from April storms. (New Orleans Times Picayune)

BIOMASS: An Alabama mill will be one of the largest producers of biomass pellets — which can be burned alongside coal — in the world. (WSFA)

• Duke Energy “doesn’t deserve to do business in the state of North Carolina or anywhere else.” (Greensboro News-Record)
• A Virginia utility is “paying lip service” to clean energy. (Russellville News Democrat & Leader)

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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