SOLAR: A new report finds solar installations surged in the U.S. last year, up 76 percent from 2011. (New York Times)

POLITICS: Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray issue competing energy plans, two solar companies that Ryan describes as “ill-fated ventures” are actually proceeding as planned. (Politico, Washington Post)

***SPONSORED LINK: The best Midwest clean energy startups vie for $250,000 in prizes at the 2013 Clean Energy Challenge April 4 in Chicago.***

FRACKING: Illinois’ House Speaker says he supports a two-year moratorium on fracking, legislators are expected today to take up legislation regulating the practice. (Springfield State Journal-Register)

FRAC SAND: A Minnesota town’s rejection of a frac sand facility causes a split among investors in the project, some of whom are “fed up” and will focus their efforts on Wisconsin. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

COAL: The company that purchased two Illinois power plants from Dominion Resources is getting another facility in Massachusetts, which one analyst has dubbed “a heap of scrap metal,” as part of the deal. (ClimateWire)

NUCLEAR: The Obama Administration plans to invest heavily in small modular reactors, and a Wisconsin county will get a $50,000 state grant to plot redevelopment strategies after the shutdown of the Kewaunee nuclear plant. (Greenwire, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

CLIMATE: An appeals court upholds the rejection of an Iowa teen’s petition to require state regulators to limit greenhouse gas emissions; and Dane County, Wisconsin, establishes a Climate Change Action Council to ensure local officials are prepared for greater weather extremes. (Des Moines Register,

OIL: A study finds the oil boom has contributed more than $30 billion to North Dakota’s economy, advocates lose a fight to protect a North Dakota historic site from drilling, scientists criticize an industry-backed study that concludes dilbit floats on water, and an oil and gas lobbying group launches an ad campaign defending industry tax breaks. (Bismarck Tribune, Associated Press, InsideClimate News, The Hill)

TRANSPORTATION: A Chinese company is investing millions in natural gas fueling stations for trucks in the U.S., and the U.S. is adding electric car charging stations at a rate of 180 per month. (Reuters, AutoBlog)

UTILITIES: More cities are showing an interest in taking over their electricity business from private utilities. (New York Times)

COMMENTARY: Futurist Jamais Cascio, who will make an appearance in Minneapolis tonight, describes paths to a sustainable world, the nature of world-changing ideas, and why talking about the apocalypse is boring. (Midwest Energy News)

Ken is the director of the Energy News Network at Fresh Energy and is a founding editor of both Midwest Energy News and Southeast Energy News. Prior to joining Fresh Energy, he was the managing editor for online news at Minnesota Public Radio. He started his journalism career in 2002 as a copy editor for the Duluth News Tribune before spending five years at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, where he worked as a copy editor, online producer, features editor and night city editor. A Nebraska native, Ken has a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master's degree from the University of Oregon. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.

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