Daily digest

Ohio regulators approve FirstEnergy rate plan, though the utility sought more

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UTILITIES: Ohio regulators unanimously approve a $204 million-a-year rate increase for FirstEnergy meant for “grid modernization,” despite objections from opponents who still call it a bailout, as well as the utility, which said the amount is “insufficient to cover the necessary and costly investments.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

COAL: Minnesota regulators appear set today to approve a 15-year plan by Xcel Energy that will close two of the state’s biggest coal-burning units and develop a large portfolio of renewable energy. (Midwest Energy News)

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RENEWABLES: An Ohio conference explores a future without fossil fuels with opposing views on what it would mean for the global economy. (Midwest Energy News)

DEMAND RESPONSE: Local officials in Chicago write a letter in opposition to ComEd’s proposal for demand response charges, saying it would burden low-income ratepayers. (Crain’s Chicago Business)

SOLAR:
• A small town in Iowa that’s a major supplier of eggs for local grocery stores has the largest solar farm in the state. (KCCI-TV)
• North Dakota regulators are objecting to a plan by Xcel Energy to have some of its North Dakota customers help pay for a 718 kilowatt solar project in Minnesota. (Prairie Public News)
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has launched a “non-public, fact-finding investigation” into bankrupt Missouri-based SunEdison. (St. Louis Business Journal)
• Cuyahoga County in Ohio moves forward with a planned cooperatively owned solar project by selecting two in-state installers. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

PIPELINES:
• An Ohio judge rules that the developer of a pipeline to move ethane from Ohio’s shale region to Ontario, Canada does not have eminent domain rights. (Toledo Blade)
• North Dakota’s Agriculture Department sets up a hotline for farmers whose operations have been affected by Dakota Access pipeline protests. (Associated Press)
• An Iowa county sheriff’s office continues racking up overtime pay related to Dakota Access protests. (Radio Iowa)

EMISSIONS: Due to mild weather, declining coal use and increased use of wind, solar and hydropower, energy-related carbon emissions hit their lowest point in the U.S. since 1991. (Climate Central)

OIL AND GAS: A natural gas explosion in a community outside of Chicago happened in the same location as one 17 years ago. (CBS Chicago)

POLITICS: A top contender to chair the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee who is from Illinois may be reluctant to reform the federal Renewable Fuel Standard. (Greenwire)

EFFICIENCY: A southeast Michigan dairy farm continues its push for energy efficiency, already seeing a 20 percent reduction in monthly energy bills. (CBS Detroit)

BIOFUELS: Local officials in Iowa vote down a plan for a biodiesel blending facility following “heavy neighborhood opposition.” (Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier)

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CLIMATE: Leaked emails from a top Democratic political operative show Democrats’ approach to climate change policy over the past eight years. (ClimateWire)

COMMENTARY: Minnesota is proving how to continue meeting the public’s energy needs, maintain employment and protect public health as it transitions away from coal. (MinnPost)

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