Daily digest

Ohio ‘bailout’ opponents walk away from negotiations

OHIO:
• A utility “bailout” settlement may be proposed in the coming days by FirstEnergy, but regulators could take months to issue a final decision. (Akron Beacon Journal)
The Sierra Club and other opponents walk away from closed-door negotiations, saying the process was a farce. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

CORPORATE SUSTAINABILITY: Leading companies based or operating in Ohio say they are moving forward with efficiency and renewable energy plans despite a lack of interest by state officials. (Midwest Energy News)

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UTILITIES: Minnesota’s e21 plan is unique because, at a time when other states and utilities seem to want to maintain the status quo, the state’s electricity industry appears willing and prepared to embrace change. (EnergyWire)

CLIMATE CHANGE:
• As climate negotiations kick off today in Paris, observers note that any agreement would not save the planet, “but only be a strong first step.” (New York Times)
Microsoft founder Bill Gates and other billionaires are expected to unveil a clean-energy research and development program today in partnership with leading countries. (Greenwire)

WIND: Three grid operators set new wind generation records this month. (RTO Insider)

SOLAR: School districts in the Twin Cities region continue to invest in solar projects to lower energy costs. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

NATURAL GAS:
• We Energies completes a $62 million coal-to-natural-gas conversion at its Milwaukee plant. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
A utility will give updated cost estimates for a major natural-gas infrastructure project in Chicago that has caught the attention of Illinois’ attorney general and consumer advocates. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

COAL: A federal appeals court rules that EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy does not have to give a deposition in a coal company’s lawsuit over the impact of regulations on jobs. (Associated Press)

NUCLEAR:
• Federal regulators will soon decide whether it’s safe to operate nuclear plants for 80 years, twice as long as initially allowed. (Bloomberg News)
The temporary shutdown of a Minnesota plant led to a fish kill in the Mississippi River. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

OIL AND GAS:
• Officials are still investigating the source of an oil spill into a Michigan river, with estimates so far at 300 gallons. (Associated Press)
South Dakota regulators are expected to decide today whether to allow construction of the Dakota Access pipeline through the state. (Associated Press)

BIOFUELS:
• The Obama administration will issue an updated ruling on the federal Renewable Fuel Standard today, which is widely expected to increase the requirements for biofuels through 2016. (Reuters)
Meanwhile, a new report shows ethanol production hit record levels this month. (Bloomberg News)

INCENTIVES: New research shows that a large majority of energy tax incentives are inequitable and go to mostly affluent consumers. (Vox)

BATTERIES: The University of Michigan lands nearly $5.5 million in federal grants to improve battery storage and efficiency technology. (MLive)

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DISTRIBUTION:
• Alliant Energy is about two-thirds of the way through major infrastructure changes to phase out its numerous substations in Iowa communities. (The Gazette)
The utility will also rely on the grid to meet its needs in Dubuque, Iowa, after it plans to close a plant there in 2017. (Telegraph Herald)

COMMENTARY:
• Watch closely for utility-favored deals in Ohio that could emerge as amendments in “Christmas tree bills.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
The utility “death spiral” predicted in 2013 due to distributed generation was not only wrong, it was “wildly, spectacularly wrong.” (Forbes)

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