FINANCE: Top Energy Department loan official Jigar Shah says the U.S. is deploying climate solutions at a “wholly unacceptable” rate, saying the current investments of $200 billion each year should be at $1 trillion. (Houston Chronicle)

UTILITIES: Ohio’s FirstEnergy agrees to pay a $230 million fine to defer prosecution of federal criminal charges over its role in using dark money nonprofits to advance a favorable power plant bailout law. (Columbus Dispatch)

INFRASTRUCTURE:
• A report identifies more than 300 sustainable infrastructure proposals, including clean transportation and efficiency projects, needed across 97 U.S. cities that face a total funding gap of at least $10.6 billion. (Utility Dive)
• Disagreements over how much to spend on public transit versus highway improvements becomes a final sticking point in Senate infrastructure negotiations, with Democrats emphasizing spending on the former and Republicans on the latter. (NBC News)

EFFICIENCY: Appalachian communities can improve quality of life and keep more money local by investing in energy efficiency instead of natural gas operations, according to a report. (Energy News Network)

CLIMATE:
• A climate scientist disputes suggestions that recent wildfires, extreme heat, and intense flooding are surpassing researchers’ expectations, though acknowledges the global warming we’ve already seen could be “a lot more problematic than we thought it was.” (Grist)
• The massive Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon burns through 90,000 acres of forest set aside to offset carbon emissions. (CNN)

GRID:
• A Texas company installing a 20 MW battery system next to a soon-to-be-retired Maryland coal plant shows how existing power facilities can offer renewable energy producers pathways onto the grid without building new transmission lines. (Bloomberg)
Tesla launches a test of a virtual power plant by allowing California customers to feed their Powerwall batteries’ excess electricity back to the grid. (Markets Insider)

NUCLEAR: Opposition to interim nuclear waste storage sites in Texas and New Mexico grows, potentially scuttling the federal government’s plans to dispose of more than 80,000 metric tons of waste. (E&E News, subscription)

PUBLIC LANDS: Tracy Stone-Manning, President Biden’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Land Management, advances to a full Senate vote after Republican protests over her past involvement in environmental protests threatened her confirmation. (Washington Post)

ELECTRIC VEHICLES:
• Electric vehicle startup Rivian plans to build a second U.S. assembly plant that will also focus on battery production. (Reuters)
• A Tennessee county seeks a $3 million grant from the state to help a maker of electric vehicle battery materials build a $160 million facility. (Chattanooga Times Free Press)

TRANSPORTATION: Massachusetts can only act on its Transportation & Climate Initiative if at least three states clear legal hurdles to join the pact, leaving the state in limbo. (Boston.com)

COMMENTARY: The head of an energy efficiency trade group urges Congress to create a nationwide energy jobs program that prioritizes employment of communities underrepresented in the industry. (Canary Media)