Daily digest

Report finds U.S. transit use at highest levels since 1956

COAL ASH: While spreading coal ash on winter roads remains a common practice in some Midwest towns, experts question the methods for testing the ash to ensure it’s safe. (Midwest Energy News)

ALSO: Duke Energy says it will charge ratepayers for cleanup costs from a North Carolina coal ash spill, as a third pipe springs a leak at the facility. (Charlotte Observer, Charlotte Business Observer)

***SPONSORED LINK: The 2014 Clean Energy Challenge business plan competition on April 3 awards over $500,000 in prizes to innovative Midwest clean tech startups! Hear keynote speakers David Crane and Tom Steyer. Use code “EARLY_BIRD” & register today! ***

TRANSPORTATION: A new report finds transit use in the United States is at the highest level since 1956. (New York Times)

EFFICIENCY: Indiana’s state senate is expected to vote today on a bill to end the state’s energy efficiency program. (Indianapolis Star)

COAL: This year’s cold winter has a utility group calling for old coal and nuclear plants to remain open, and environmental groups seek an investigation of an Indiana coal-to-gas project. (Bloomberg, Indianapolis Star)

SOLAR:
• Why Minnesota’s solar industry is poised for a boom. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
• A Minnesota solar program has more prospective subscribers than it can handle. (Minnesota Public Radio)
• An Illinois rural co-op becomes the first in the state to open a utility-scale solar array. (Alton Telegraph)
• An Iowa town considers a solar installation at its wastewater plant. (Associated Press)
• DTE Energy’s largest solar project takes shape outside Detroit. (Detroit Free Press)

NUCLEAR: A report finds regulators did not penalize Exelon for safety violations at an Illinois nuclear plant, the NRC finds a “chilled work environment” in the security department at a Michigan nuclear plant, and an Illinois town worries about the local economic impact of a nuclear shutdown. (Associated Press, MLive, Chicago Tribune)

CLIMATE: CEOs face growing investor concern about climate risks, U.S. Senators will stage an all-nighter to call out “a stubborn group of climate change deniers,” and environmental groups say the State Department’s Keystone XL report could undermine U.S. credibility in global climate talks. (ClimateWire, The Hill, InsideClimate News)

AGGREGATION: A report finds Illinois leads the U.S. in the number of cities purchasing 100 percent renewable electricity; meanwhile, Chicago’s rates are expected to rise this year under aggregation but not as much as they would have under ComEd, according to city officials. (Bloomington Pantagraph, Chicago Sun-Times)

UTILITIES: Consumer advocates call for greater transparency in the way grid costs are passed on to ratepayers. (National Journal)

PROPANE: Propane prices are returning to normal, but supply challenges remain. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

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FRAC SAND: Minnesota releases the final draft of its frac sand mining guidelines, and officials in a Wisconsin county worry about legislation to limit local control of mining operations. (Winona Daily News, LaCrosse Tribune)

COMMENTARY: “If the faces of renewable energy critics are not red yet, they soon will be.” (New York Times)

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