TRANSITION: President Joe Biden’s climate change plans include a promise to focus on economic development in coal-producing communities, but central Appalachian communities remain skeptical after decades of struggles with poverty and depopulation. (New York Times)

ALSO: The Biden administration faces a challenge in addressing the pay gap between jobs in traditional fossil fuel and renewables as it presses for a clean energy transition. (Houston Chronicle) 

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SOLAR:
• Opposition to a 5 MW solar project by North Carolina’s utility customer advocate reveals the challenges with developing relatively small solar farms in the state. (Energy News Network)
• A natural gas company in Roanoke, Virginia, installs solar panels on its headquarters even as it sees growth in its fossil fuel-based core mission. (Roanoke Times)

PIPELINES: Opponents of the Byhalia Connection Pipeline point to its proposed route through poor, predominantly Black neighborhoods in Memphis, Tennessee, as evidence of environmental racism. (Associated Press)

GRID:
• More than 30 Texas power plants failed to heed the warnings of a 2011 cold snap and were shut down again in last month’s freeze, according to a news analysis. (Washington Post)
• Texas utility regulators reject a recommendation to return $16 billion in overcharges by retroactively lowering wholesale electricity rates. (Austin American-Statesman)
• Oklahoma experienced blackouts during February’s southern energy crisis but escaped the massive outages seen in Texas because its power grid is interconnected with a regional network. (Oklahoman)

NUCLEAR: Arkansas and Louisiana regulators say Entergy wrongfully charged customers more than $1 billion for a troubled Mississippi nuclear power station. (Associated Press)

ELECTRIC VEHICLES: Volvo’s commitment to transition to all electric cars by 2030 revs up its South Carolina factory, which plans to double its production. (Post and Courier)

OIL & GAS:
• Texas lawmakers consider moving regulation of the state’s oil and gas industry to a commission that oversees electric, water and telecommunication utilities. (WFAA)
• West Virginia’s oil and gas industry closely watches the state legislature, especially a proposal from the governor to eliminate the state income tax while restructuring the state’s severance tax structure. (WV News)
• Natural gas-producing counties in West Virginia prepare for budget shortfalls after a tough 2020 for the industry. (WV News)

COMMENTARY: An editorial board calls Texas’ deregulated energy market “an expensive failure” after last month’s winter storm and blackouts. (Austin American-Statesman)

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.