Daily digest

Minnesota counties confront land-use issues amid wave of new solar

SOLAR:
• A Minnesota county just outside of Minneapolis struggles with the recent wave of solar development and how it might alter the landscape. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
• The leading solar installer in the U.S. has introduced new software to help utilities develop dispatchable utility-scale solar projects. (Utility Dive)
Despite low interest thus far, Xcel Energy plans to move forward with two community solar projects in western Wisconsin. (Coulee News)

ILLINOIS: A surprise bill introduced by ComEd and Exelon purports to find common ground on solar, renewable standards and struggling nuclear plants, but clean energy groups say they weren’t involved in crafting the proposal. (Midwest Energy News)

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EFFICIENCY: A new program in Athens County, Ohio, looks to help landlords boost energy efficiency spending on rental properties. (Midwest Energy News)

CLEAN POWER PLAN:
• The new CEO of Wisconsin’s largest utility believes some form of carbon regulation is inevitable. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
A new national poll shows 70 percent of U.S. voters know “just a little or nothing at all” about the federal rules. (ClimateWire)

FRAC SAND: A controversial mining operation near the Iowa-Wisconsin border is facing opposition as it looks to make a seven-fold expansion in size. (WISC-TV)

PIPELINES:
• The debate over two northern Minnesota pipeline projects heats up again as regulators begin another public input process. (Minnesota Public Radio)
Energy Transfer continues to struggle in backing out of a major deal with another pipeline company. (New York Times)
A county board in southeast Michigan votes to oppose the planned NEXUS natural gas pipeline, saying it’s unnecessary and puts communities at risk. See here for background on more opposition to the project. (MLive, Midwest Energy News)

UTILITIES:
• Xcel Energy is taking steps to improve reliability on its system in North Dakota after an increase in recent outages. (Forum News Service)
Officials at WEC Energy in Wisconsin are preparing for an upcoming wave of employee retirements. (Milwaukee Business Journal)
DTE Energy will use virtual reality to train its technicians in “high-consequence” environments. (Transmission & Distribution World)

OIL AND GAS:
• The wildfire in Alberta, Canada has knocked out as much as one-third of the country’s oil capacity and has closed some pipelines. (Reuters)
• A new oil refinery in western North Dakota plans to operate at 75 percent due to continued losses tied to the slumping industry. (Associated Press)

WIND: The federal government’s proposed rules for wind permits that allow for the killing of eagles is drawing mixed reviews from industry and wildlife advocates. (Greenwire)

COAL: Dynegy’s planned coal unit closures in Illinois would mark the retirement of 100 gigawatts of coal in the U.S. since 2010. (The Hill)

COMMENTARY:
• Minnesota-based global manufacturing and technology company 3M signs its first power-purchase agreement for 120 megawatts of wind, building on the company’s four decades of corporate sustainability. (Rocky Mountain Institute)
A Minnesota county made the right choice in opting for a working group to study solar development there rather than a moratorium. (St. Cloud Times)

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