👋 Hello and welcome to the last Energy News Weekly of the year! We’ll be taking the next week off for the holidays, but in the meantime, we’ve compiled the best Energy News Network articles of the past year. It should be enough to keep you busy while snuggled up next to your fireplace — or heat pump — until the new year.

Construction workers help install a heat pump.
Workers help install a heat pump. Credit: Marcela Gara / Resource Media / Creative Commons

In no particular order, here are 11 of our best, most read and most interesting articles of the year. 

In Maine, heat pumps are proving themselves even against extreme cold: Research out of the chilly state of Maine shows electric heat pumps are keeping homes cozy without racking up huge bills.

Dark money helped Ohio utilities subsidize coal plants, delaying action on climate change at ratepayers’ expense: This article summarizes years of reporting on Ohio’s House Bill 6, the power plant bailout legislation that is now at the heart of the largest corruption case in state history.

What we know about Alice Parker, a ‘hidden figure’ in modern heating: Here’s what one reporter’s research uncovered about the Black woman inventor whose early-20th-century “heating furnace” foretold the modern smart home.

In Southern Illinois, people see a land of possibility with just transition from coal: The first of two stories from southern Illinois’ fading coal country, where residents are envisioning a new clean energy economy. 

As agencies seek more environmental justice data, longtime residents are skeptical: In Detroit, environmental regulators hope new data-driven tools will help identify pollution hotspots and drive environmental justice. Longtime residents aren’t sure it’ll make a difference. 

New Mexico’s coal transition law still faces an uncertain timeline: This first article in a three-part series breaks down New Mexico’s transition off of coal, and a relatively unknown company’s attempts to preserve a coal-fired power plant with carbon capture. 

Virginians craft a plan to boost farmers while reducing beers’ carbon footprint: A Southwest Virginia effort to supply brewers with locally grown barley aims to limit shipping-related emissions and offer an opportunity for farmers during what’s usually the fallow season.

How hydrology could help researchers prepare for a changing electric grid: Federal researchers are adapting the idea of watersheds into “energy sheds” that map how electricity is generated and consumed in an area.

Iowa carbon pipeline opponents see lessons from Dakota Access fight: A coalition similar to the one that took a stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline is emerging in Iowa to fight a proposed interstate carbon dioxide pipeline.

Colleges see untapped potential in geothermal district energy systems: Minnesota’s Carleton College is among a growing list of schools investing in the centuries-old technology as part of a path to eliminating greenhouse gas emissions.

More clean energy news

⏸️ Permitting fight on pause: The U.S. Senate rejects adding Sen. Joe Manchin’s energy permitting reform amendment to a must-pass defense spending bill, sending his long fight to expedite environmental reviews into 2023. (E&E News)

🔥 Fenty x FERC: “Hot FERC Summer” creator Rep. Sean Casten is back with another regulatory remix, this time parodying Rihanna to draw attention to a looming staff shortage at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. (New Republic)

💰 Fossil fuels’ political influence: A new study reveals trade groups spent $3.4 billion between 2008 and 2018 to influence climate policies, with oil and gas groups making up $1 billion of that total. (DeSmog)

⚖️ Mob-fighting law used against oil giants: Puerto Rico communities bring the nation’s first climate racketeering lawsuit against oil and gas companies, alleging they conspired with trade associations and paid experts to deceive the public about climate change. (Guardian)

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Kathryn brings her extensive editorial background to the Energy News Network team, where she oversees the early-morning production of ENN’s five email digest newsletters as well as distribution of ENN’s original journalism with other media outlets. From documenting chronic illness’ effect on college students to following the inner workings of Congress, Kathryn has built a broad experience in her more than five years working at major publications including The Week Magazine. Kathryn holds a Bachelor of Science in magazine journalism and information management and technology from Syracuse University.