UTILITIES: A new agreement between a major environmental group and an organization representing investor-owned utilities seeks a “path to success” on the contentious topic of distributed generation. (Midwest Energy News)

EFFICIENCY: Indiana lawmakers advance a bill that would let big companies opt out of energy efficiency programs. (Indianapolis Star)

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OIL: Minnesota lawmakers seek tougher rules for oil trains, a December derailment in North Dakota spilled more oil than previously estimated, and two oil spills are reported in western North Dakota. (Minneapolis Star Tribune, McClatchy, Associated Press)

EDITOR’S NOTE: A link to a related Star Tribune story about oil train safety was accidentally omitted from yesterday’s digest. The story can be found here.

COAL: A Michigan power plant improves its efficiency by capturing heat from a tire recycler, and the coal industry uses winter shortages as an opportunity to take a swipe at natural gas. (Hillsdale Daily News, National Journal)

PETCOKE: An Illinois business group reacts to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to prohibit new petcoke facilities in the city, calling it “a solution in search of a problem.” (Chicago Sun-Times)

FRACKING: A Michigan group postpones its effort for a ballot initiative to ban fracking until 2016. (Great Lakes Echo)

NUCLEAR: Scientists have achieved a milestone in the long-elusive pursuit of nuclear fusion. (Christian Science Monitor)

PROPANE: Pipeline shipments of propane to the Midwest have increased as federal regulators use emergency powers to shore up supplies. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

AGRICULTURE: Farmers at a Michigan conference say energy is their top concern. (Detroit Free Press)

BIOFUELS: An Iowa-based renewable fuel company has launched a division that well sell petroleum-based heating oil and diesel. (Des Moines Register)

TRANSMISSION: A Sioux City factory has been selected to provide towers for the Rock Island Clean Line. (Sioux City Journal)

COMMENTARY: Why regulators should ignore some utilities’ attacks on solar power. (NRDC Switchboard)

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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