Daily digest

Early Minnesota biomass plant faces closure as economics change

SMART GRID: Despite concerns over cost and security, many see Illinois utilities’ buildout of the state’s smart grid over the past five years as a success. (Midwest Energy News)

BIOMASS: One of the pioneering biomass facilities in Minnesota may shut down: “Biomass is no longer the attractive fuel it once was.” (Minnesota Public Radio)

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NUCLEAR:
• An environmental attorney wonders why Michigan-based DTE Energy is still interested in plans for a new nuclear plant amid unfavorable economics across the region. (Crain’s Detroit Business)
• $300 million is at stake as Ohio lawmakers begin testimony over FirstEnergy’s request for ratepayer support for its struggling nuclear plants. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
• Federal nuclear regulators deny a citizens’ group request to reopen licensing proceedings over concerns about a southeast Michigan nuclear plant. (Toledo Blade)

PIPELINES:
• A Michigan-based group is pursuing a statewide ballot proposal that seeks to stop the flow of crude oil through the Straits of Mackinac. (Detroit Free Press)
• Enbridge is conducting emergency response tests in Bay City, Michigan in preparation for a potential spill from Line 5. (MLive)

WIND: A South Dakota county agrees to back down back down on some restrictive wind siting proposals after negotiations with major renewable energy developers. (Watertown Public Opinion)

OIL AND GAS: North Dakota lawmakers approve a bill that will study gas royalty payments amid a dispute between the state and the industry. (Forum News Service)

ELECTRIC VEHICLES: Major automakers are objecting to Volkswagen’s plan to fund electric vehicle infrastructure as part of the settlement from its emissions-cheating scandal. (Reuters)

STORAGE: A Missouri utility is partnering with a Swedish private equity firm on an energy storage pilot project. (Utility Dive)

WASTE-TO-ENERGY: A Nebraska city continues paying for the mounting costs of odor issues at a waste-to-energy facility, which have grown to nearly $2 million. (Sioux City Journal)

COAL:
• U.S. senators from Ohio continue working on a long-term funding plan for retired coal miners’ health and pension benefits as Congress nears an agreement over a funding extension. (WKSU, Associated Press)
• Dynegy moves to buy Dayton Power and Light’s ownership stakes in two Ohio coal plants. (Dayton Daily News)
• A Columbia University report this week says more than 95 percent of coal’s decline is due to low natural gas prices, falling electricity demand and growth in renewables. (Climate Central)

BIOFUELS:
• Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa is a leading the push for a biodiesel tax credit extension that would apply to producers instead of blenders. (Radio Iowa)
• Construction is expected to begin soon to expand the production capacity of a South Dakota ethanol plant. (Farm Forum)
• In a meeting that included Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture, President Trump reiterated his support for the ethanol industry. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

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CLIMATE: Several buses filled with climate change activists left Minnesota this week for the World Climate March in Washington D.C. (WCCO)

COMMENTARY:
• The Chicago Sun Times says a report this week about newly identified spills along Enbridge’s Line 5 has “ratcheted up worries” about threats posed by the pipeline.
“Utility of the future discussions have gone mainstream,” notes one energy analyst, and most recently in Illinois, Ohio and Minnesota. (Forbes)
• A Forbes contributor says unlike FirstEnergy’s attempts to support uneconomic power plants, other major utilities are making large investments in clean energy.

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