UTILITIES: The debate over whether to sell or reform troubled state-owned utility Santee Cooper is shaping up as one of the most contentious issues in South Carolina’s legislative session. (Post and Courier)

• Duke Energy asks Florida regulators to approve a settlement that includes construction of electric vehicle charging stations and the closure of coal plants eight years early, but also higher rates for customers. (Tampa Bay Times)
• A bipartisan group of Virginia lawmakers pushes a slate of bills to reform the state’s oversight of utilities. (Virginia Mercury)

***SPONSORED LINK: North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association is offering a virtual clean energy continuing legal education (CLE) course on Feb. 2, with a specific focus on the Southeast region. Register today! ***

• Silicon Ranch Corp. hires a construction company to build a 100 MW solar farm in southwest Georgia that will power a Facebook data center. (Associated Press)
• Two Arkansas school districts are among the first to benefit from a 2019 state law that will see them compensated for electricity produced by solar arrays. (Batesville Daily Guard)
• Residents near two proposed solar farms in Florida’s panhandle express concerns about potential effects on property values, wildlife and views. (WMBB)

Scrutiny of a federal mine safety agency and how it has handled the pandemic increases even as the country sees a historically low number of coal mining deaths. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)
• An Appalachian group’s report spotlights 19 potential projects to reuse abandoned mine lands, including solar energy generation. (news release)
• South Carolina regulators agree to update long-expired water discharge permits for three coal-fired power plants after being sued by environmental groups. (Myrtle Beach Sun News)
• Energy plans filed by West Virginia utilities suggest that coal plants will still be used through at least 2035, though details remain murky. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)

ELECTRIC VEHICLES: A Miami-area middle school student’s science fair project ultimately leads school officials to decide to convert the district’s school bus fleet from diesel to electric. (CleanTechnica)

ENERGY EFFICIENCY: A Texas contractor completes energy efficiency improvements on four government office buildings in an Arkansas county, with a fifth to be finished in coming weeks. (Texarkana Gazette)  

• After a year of losses and layoffs, the way in which ExxonMobil rebounds from the pandemic may well shape Houston’s energy and economic future. (Houston Public Media)
• The Permian Basin sees its lowest level of flaring in a decade as oil companies seek to maximize efficiency and squeeze out additional profits. (KOSA)

CLEAN ENERGY: Georgia ranked second among states for clean-energy jobs lost in 2020, and first for percentage of lost employees; recovery may take years. (Albany Herald)

POLITICS: Texas lawmakers file bills to require utilities to meet energy reduction targets, to limit where wind farms can be built and to study renewable energy’s effects on the grid. (Houston Business Journal)

• North Carolinians support the buildout of offshore wind and other clean energy technologies as a cornerstone of state energy policy, but the state must act to see jobs and economic benefits, writes the president of the Southeastern Wind Coalition. (Energy News Network)
• A Florida resident complains that a regional utility continues to push customers to use natural gas even as the rest of the state tilts toward solar energy. (The Gainesville Sun)

Mason has worked as a journalist since 2001, covering Appalachian communities and the issues that affect them. He compiles the Southeast Energy News digest. Mason previously worked as a wildlife biologist before moving into journalism by freelancing at Coast Weekly in Monterey, California, before taking an internship in 2001 at High Country News. He wrote for the Enterprise Mountaineer in western North Carolina and the Roanoke Times in western Virginia before going freelance in 2012. His work has appeared in Southerly, Daily Yonder, Mother Jones, Huffington Post, WVPB’s Inside Appalachia and elsewhere. Mason was born and raised in Clifton Forge, Virginia, and now lives with his family and a small herd of goats in Floyd County, Virginia.