Correction: A report says the cost of reclaiming nearly half a million — not billion — acres of mined land in central Appalachia may amount to $6 billion. An item in Friday’s newsletter incorrectly reported the amount of land.

PIPELINES: A deadlocked board of federal regulators blocked Mountain Valley Pipeline’s request to bore beneath West Virginia waterways as an alternative to trenching, for which its permit is held up in court. (Roanoke Times)

TRANSITION: President-elect Joe Biden and congressional Democrats face challenge and opportunity in restoring unreclaimed mine lands and economic growth in central Appalachian communities that have long been reliant on a fading coal industry. (Southerly/Daily Yonder)

***SPONSORED LINK: North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association is offering a virtual clean energy continuing legal education (CLE) course on Feb. 2, with a specific focus on the Southeast region. Register today! ***

• The city of Hot Springs, Arkansas, announces it will build the largest municipal solar plant in the state. (KLRT)
• A planning commission in Florida’s panhandle approves two proposed solar farms despite opposition from local residents. (WJHG)

• Virginia lawmakers introduce legislation to streamline state permitting for energy storage systems. (Virginia Mercury)
• A southern Virginia city announces plans to build a battery storage system that will enable the city-owned electric utility to save on transmission and capacity costs. (Danville Register & Bee)

UTILITIES: Louisville Gas & Electric and Kentucky Utilities ask state regulators to raise rates for the third time in four years. (WFPL)

OIL & GAS: A judge approves fracking pioneer Chesapeake Energy’s plan to exit bankruptcy, likely with no significant changes to its executive leadership team. (Oklahoman)

COAL ASH: Georgia Power plans to drain three coal ash ponds at its decommissioned Plant Mitchell in February and mix the coal ash into cement. (Daily Energy Insider)

EMISSIONS: American Electric Power and other large Southeast utilities embellish their decarbonization stats by removing divested power plants still in operation from their tallies. (E&E News, subscription)

COMMENTARY: The administration of incoming President Joe Biden likely will push Texas-based energy companies to make adjustments and address longstanding environmental concerns, but in an incremental way with few surprises, says a Texas professor. (Houstonia)

Mason has worked as a journalist since 2001, covering Appalachian communities and the issues that affect them. He compiles the Southeast Energy News digest. Mason previously worked as a wildlife biologist before moving into journalism by freelancing at Coast Weekly in Monterey, California, before taking an internship in 2001 at High Country News. He wrote for the Enterprise Mountaineer in western North Carolina and the Roanoke Times in western Virginia before going freelance in 2012. His work has appeared in Southerly, Daily Yonder, Mother Jones, Huffington Post, WVPB’s Inside Appalachia and elsewhere. Mason was born and raised in Clifton Forge, Virginia, and now lives with his family and a small herd of goats in Floyd County, Virginia.