Daily digest

Minnesota bills would sidestep state utility regulators on natural gas plant

NOTE TO READERS: Midwest Energy News will not be publishing on Monday in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. We will return on Tuesday, January 17.

MINNESOTA: Bills introduced in Minnesota would allow Xcel Energy to build a major natural gas plant in Sherburne County where coal units are being retired, effectively sidestepping state regulators who had earlier put the plan on hold. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

EFFICIENCY: Proponents hope that harsh winter weather will spur more Chicago-area ratepayers to adopt smart “learning thermostats,” which can also help drive energy efficiency savings. (Midwest Energy News)

***SPONSORED LINK: Connect with more than 650 of the region’s best and brightest at MEEA’s 2017 Midwest Energy Solutions Conference, February 22-24 in Chicago, featuring unparalleled networking, insightful panels and more. Register today!***

SOLAR:
• A new online resource allows residents and businesses in Duluth, Minnesota to explore the potential for rooftop solar on their property. (Midwest Energy News)
• Dubuque, Iowa is installing solar panels on five of the city’s six fire stations, hoping to cut electricity costs by 30 percent. (KWWL)

WIND: MidAmerican Energy releases more details about where turbines will be located as part of a planned $3.6 billion wind project in Iowa. (Radio Iowa)

PIPELINES:
• The Dakota Access pipeline protests have spurred new legislation in North Dakota’s Republican-led and largely oil-friendly legislature. (Associated Press)
• North Dakota’s new governor expects the Dakota Access pipeline to be built once Donald Trump takes office. (Reuters)

OHIO:
• Ohio state Rep. Bill Seitz, who as a former state senator led the charge against clean energy standards there, will remain active on energy issues as chair of a key House energy committee this year. (Columbus Business First)
• Major utilities in Ohio say the impact on ratepayers of submetering charges “is considerable and unfair.” (Columbus Dispatch)

EMISSIONS: Fiat Chrysler is denying allegations by the U.S. EPA that software installed in certain diesel vehicles allows them to emit more pollutants than allowed under law. (Washington Post)

BIOFUELS: A new U.S. Department of Agriculture report says ethanol reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent relative to gasoline, a percentage greater than previously thought. (Cedar Rapids Gazette)

CLIMATE: Religious groups in Ohio are reframing climate change as a spiritual issue in hopes of “elevating it above the political fray.” (Columbus Dispatch)

***SPONSORED LINK: Register for CEE’s January 12 forum in St. Paul to hear from Great River Energy, MVEC, MN Rural Electric Association and others about how co-ops are responding to industry shifts in clean energy policies and pricing, customer expectations and infrastructure. ***

UTILITIES: A utility merger in Kansas will results in hundreds of job losses, though mostly through attrition, company officials say. (Topeka Capital-Journal)

GRID: American Electric Power purchases more than $6 million in property in central Ohio to build a new transmission center. (Columbus Business First)

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