Daily digest

Minnesota regulators approve state’s largest solar project

OHIO:
• The state ratepayer advocacy group in Ohio says “everyone is unhappy” in a new report about the state’s energy economy. (Midwest Energy News)
A group of power-company CEOs head to the state Capitol to lobby legislators and Gov. John Kasich to oppose income-guarantee proposals by two utilities. (Columbus Business First)

SOLAR:
• Minnesota regulators unanimously approve plans for a 100-megawatt solar project, by far the state’s largest. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
• Community solar is catching on in Wisconsin. (Wisconsin Public Radio)
• A small Minnesota town is betting big on community solar. (City Pages)
• The U.S. Department of Energy proposes $18 million in funding for a variety of microgrid and solar-plus-storage projects, including one in Chicago. (Utility Dive, Medill News Service)

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PIPELINES:
• North Dakota regulators approve the state’s portion of the Dakota Access pipeline, leaving Iowa as the final state left to approve it. (The Gazette)
• Canadian researchers, activists and industry representatives are looking at ways to minimize damage to the environment and wildlife in the event of an oil spill. (Great Lakes Echo)
Critics say proposed rules in Ohio making it easier to build pipelines and surface coal mines would have negative impacts on streams and wetlands. (Associated Press)

CLIMATE:
• Two U.S. science agencies report that 2015 was undoubtedly the warmest year on record. (Washington Post)
• Scientists, business leaders and analysts warn that coal, oil and gas must stop being used as energy sources in order to avoid climate catastrophe. (Phys.org)

RESEARCH:
• Following state budget cuts and limitations, Wisconsin researchers are finding new ways to fund energy research. (The Badger Herald)
An Ohio-based nonprofit receives funding to study ways to economically extract rare-earth metals from coal. (Columbus Business First)

COAL: Coal production in the Illinois Basin reaches the lowest quarterly levels since 2009. (Platts)

NUCLEAR:
• Wisconsin Republicans are teaming up with scientists to lift a decades-old moratorium on new nuclear plants. (Isthmus)
• Opponents of a plan to bury nuclear waste less than a mile from Lake Huron submit a petition with more than 92,000 signatures to the Canadian government. (Associated Press)

KANSAS: A bipartisan slate of lawmakers is upset at Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration for quietly negotiating a deal for a new power plant in Topeka. (Topeka Capital-Journal)

EFFICIENCY: Retrofitting buildings to be more energy efficient has grown into a $20 billion industry nationwide. (Bloomberg)

NATURAL GAS: For the first time, power companies likely burned more natural gas than coal for energy in 2015. (Reuters)

RATES: Michigan regulators are investigating Consumers Energy’s estimated billing practices following hundreds of customer complaints. (MLive)

COMMENTARY: Minnesota needs to continue moving forward with solar growth. (MinnPost)

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