Correction: North Carolina regulators initiated a rule-making process Tuesday for the state to join the 11-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. An item in Wednesday’s newsletter mischaracterized the commission’s action.  

POLITICS: North Carolina lawmakers advance a bill to reshape the state’s energy landscape by replacing Duke Energy’s coal-fired power plants largely with natural gas and making other regulatory changes Duke has sought for years, though Gov. Roy Cooper is likely to veto it. (Associated Press, WRAL)

ALSO: U.S. Joe Manchin of West Virginia says he’s “very, very disturbed” by elements of congressional Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget plan that he worries will eliminate fossil fuels. (CNN)

• A northern Virginia’s restaurant’s 44 kW rooftop solar system becomes the first in the state to deploy innovative financing designed for businesses and nonprofits to accelerate affordable green energy upgrades. (Energy News Network)
• A Kentucky university unveils a solar-powered heat pump, leading a state cabinet official to say solar energy can be the next big thing in state agriculture. (Murray Ledger & Times)
• A North Carolina brewery touts the benefits of a 70 kW solar system that it installed in 2017 with funding from profits of a “new smash hit beer.” (WGHP) 

• While mining has become exponentially safer in recent decades, experts say a troubling number of black lung cases persist in Appalachia and Illinois coal mining regions. (Energy News Network)
• Alabama regulators approve an Alabama Power plan to drain and cap an unlined holding pond with 21 million tons of coal ash. (WKRG)

OIL & GAS: A shale gas company says it will work with environmental groups to verify its Louisiana shale production as responsibly produced by the end of the year, with its Appalachia production soon to follow. (S&P Global)

SOLAR: An Arkansas school district unveils a 720-kilowatt solar array that will provide 90% of the campus’ electricity needs. (Arkansas Business)

• Dominion Energy says a heat wave has doubled electricity demand in Virginia and North Carolina this week. (WJLA)
• West Virginia’s utility regulation commission has lost one of its three members after his term expired, though a decision on infrastructure improvements requested by Appalachian Power still looms. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)

BIOGAS: A consulting firm and waste-to-energy firm will study alternative waste solutions for a Tenneseee landfill set to reach maximum capacity within the next several years. (Murfreesboro Post)

INFRASTRUCTURE: An advanced energy business group says spending $20 billion in public money on energy efficiency, renewable generation and other technology would grow Virginia’s gross state product by nearly $134 billion. (news release)

• Texas lawmakers should look at the state’s rainy day fund and other ways to pay for winterization rather than deflecting costs to ratepayers, writes an editorial board. (Beaumont Enterprise)
• The president and CEO of the United States’ largest natural gas producer says the industry is reducing greenhouse gas emissions and could allow gas-producing states like West Virginia to benefit the climate. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)
• Virginia regulators have approved so many utility fees for a program to extend net metering-like benefits to residents of apartment buildings and condominiums that they’ve rendered it pointless, writes a clean energy advocate. (Virginia Mercury)

Mason has worked as a journalist since 2001, covering Appalachian communities and the issues that affect them. He compiles the Southeast Energy News digest. Mason previously worked as a wildlife biologist before moving into journalism by freelancing at Coast Weekly in Monterey, California, before taking an internship in 2001 at High Country News. He wrote for the Enterprise Mountaineer in western North Carolina and the Roanoke Times in western Virginia before going freelance in 2012. His work has appeared in Southerly, Daily Yonder, Mother Jones, Huffington Post, WVPB’s Inside Appalachia and elsewhere. Mason was born and raised in Clifton Forge, Virginia, and now lives with his family and a small herd of goats in Floyd County, Virginia.