RENEWABLES: Southeastern cities stand out in a new report for their 2020 purchases of renewable energy, led by Houston which powered city operations entirely from nearly 500 MW of solar power — the largest municipal purchase of renewable energy ever in the United States. (Energy News Network)

COAL:
• A Tennessee subcommittee advances a bill to shift oversight of the state’s meager coal mining industry from federal to state regulators, which the Sierra Club says would increase costs and weaken environmental protections. (Tennessee Lookout)
• West Virginia lawmakers pass a weakened version of a bill designed to prop up the state’s coal industry by requiring coal-fired power plants owned by public utilities to keep at least 30 days of coal supply under contract. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)
• The United Mine Workers of America plans a strike today against an Alabama metallurgical coal company over what it says are unfair labor practices involving more than 1,100 workers. (Birmingham Business Journal)

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SOLAR:
• West Virginia lawmakers pass a bill to encourage retail customer investment in solar energy by exempting certain solar power purchase agreements from oversight by state regulators. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)
• Republican senators across the Southeast co-sponsor a bill to ban using federal funds to buy solar panels or related equipment from China. (PV Magazine)

ELECTRIC VEHICLES: A U.S. trade body cleared a South Korean battery maker of violating a rival company’s patents, potentially affecting a separate dispute between the two companies that could lead to one withdrawing its plan to build a $2.6 billion factory in Georgia. (Reuters)

WIND: A culturally conservative Republican candidate running for county office in western Virginia cites a local onshore wind farm project as wasteful and an example of the state meddling in local politics. (Roanoke Times)

OIL & GAS:
• President Biden’s infrastructure package could funnel billions of dollars to Louisiana for projects that include capping thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells and redressing historical inequities built into past projects. (NOLA.com)
• Environmental groups call on Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to deny requests to drill for oil near the Big Cypress National Preserve in the Florida Everglades. (The Hill)
• The high-wage upstream sector in Texas’ oil and natural gas industry grew by 2,300 jobs in February, and 7,400 jobs since its pandemic-related low point in September. (Center Square)

UTILITIES:
• North Carolina regulators approve a rate increase for Duke Energy that’s just more than half of what the utility had requested, while accepting a settlement involving the costs of its troubled coal-ash operations. (Charlotte Business Journal)
• Memphis Light, Gas and Water hires a consultant to explore the possibility of leaving the Tennessee Valley Authority. (WREG)
• Dominion Energy executive chairman Tom Farrell will retire today after 14 years leading the utility. (Virginia Business)
• Arkansas will end a pandemic-related disconnection moratorium for regulated utility services in May. (KARK)

NUCLEAR: A crash in North Carolina involving a truck carrying a radioactive uranium compound shuts down a major East Coast interstate for five hours. (WAVY)

CLIMATE: A multi-generational fossil fuel magnate helps lead an effort to make Texas carbon-neutral by 2050. (KXAN)

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POLITICS: Progressives point to an extension of tax credits for carbon capture as evidence that President Biden’s $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan only superficially addresses climate change. (Bloomberg)

COMMENTARY:
America’s role in producing greenhouse gases contributing to a global climate crisis plays a major part in the growing number of migrants that have massed along the southern border, writes climate activist Bill McKibben. (New Yorker)
• A report that coal baron and West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has fallen from being the state’s only billionaire to just a mere millionaire raises questions about his policy judgement and motivations, writes an editorial board. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)

Mason Adams

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.