OHIO:
FirstEnergy’s fired former CEO defends his actions related to the utility’s ongoing bribery scandal and criticized the company for agreeing to a $230 million settlement with federal prosecutors. (Reuters)
In a conference call with analysts, FirstEnergy’s current CEO stressed the company’s commitment to the agreement with federal prosecutors and called the company’s actions “wrong and unacceptable.” (Akron Beacon Journal)

PIPELINES:
A Minnesota judge grants a restraining order against a sheriff and local land official after they blocked Line 3 protesters from accessing a camp. (MPR News)
Federal regulators plan to fine the Dakota Access pipeline operator more than $93,000 for pipeline safety violations. (Associated Press)
Michigan officials order Enbridge to remove a 7.5-ton anchor from the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac that was left behind near the Line 5 pipeline. (MLive)

CLIMATE: More than 200 communities in the Chicago region devise a collective climate action plan that they say is the first of its kind in the U.S. (WBEZ)

ELECTRIC VEHICLES: Automakers and battery manufacturers are racing to develop new technologies that strengthen vehicles’ body structures while improving range. (Reuters)

OIL & GAS:
The COVID-19 pandemic caused Ohio natural gas production to drop 10% in 2020 while oil production declined 16% compared to the previous year. (Natural Gas Intelligence)
An Ohio farmer sues a state agency and a developer over a natural gas pipeline set to go through preserved farmland. (Farm and Dairy)
Executives at a Missouri natural gas utility say a gas pipeline is needed to avoid losses in service during future cold weather snaps like the one seen this year. (S&P Global)

SOLAR:
Construction started earlier this month on a 100 MW solar project in central Iowa. (WHO-13)
County officials in Indiana plan additional work to refine a draft ordinance regulating commercial solar projects. (Kokomo Tribune)
An Iowa community college’s solar installation is expected to save the school about $10.7 million over the next 25 years. (Globe Gazette)

UTILITIES:
A proposed agreement would increase electric rates by 3.5% for Xcel Energy customers in North Dakota to pay for system maintenance and nuclear plant upgrades. (Inforum)
The COVID-19 pandemic caused a spike in the number of Michigan ratepayers seeking state assistance to pay electricity bills, according to a new report from a public policy nonprofit. (Daily Press)

COMMENTARY:
More prosecutions and an overhaul of Ohio’s energy laws are needed following last week’s admission by FirstEnergy that it bribed state officials for favorable legislation, an editorial board says. (Akron Beacon Journal)
An Iowa state representative says the state has a “tremendous opportunity” to invest in electric vehicles with an already strong renewable energy portfolio. (Des Moines Register)

Andy Balaskovitz

Andy compiles the Midwest Energy News digest and was a journalism fellow for Midwest Energy News from 2014-2020. He is managing editor of MiBiz in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and was formerly a reporter and editor at City Pulse, Lansing’s alternative newsweekly.