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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)

Andy Balaskovitz

Andy Balaskovitz

Andy has been a journalism fellow for Midwest Energy News since 2014, following four years at City Pulse, Lansing’s alt-weekly newspaper. He covers the state of Michigan and also compiles the Midwest Energy News daily email digest. Andy is a graduate of Michigan State University’s Journalism School, where he focused on topics covered by the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism and wrote for the Great Lakes Echo. He was the 2008 and 2009 recipient of the Edward Meeman Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Student in Environmental Journalism at Michigan State.

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