Great Lakes Energy News Roundup: Back Forty mine setback, Illinois and Ohio utility shutoffs

Great Lakes Energy News Roundup: Back Forty mine setback, Illinois and Ohio utility shutoffs
August 6, 2020 Ian Wendrow

Keep up with energy-related developments in the Great Lakes area with Great Lakes Now’s biweekly headline roundup.

In this edition: Controversial open-pit sulfide mine in UP faces major delays due to COVID-19, utility companies in Ohio and Illinois set to resume disconnections after pandemic-induced moratorium lapses, and Enbridge completes replacement work on Line 5 under St. Clair River.

Click on the headline to read the full story:


Illinois utility companies and state Attorney General Kwame Raoul came to an agreement establishing a utility shutoff moratorium that ended on Aug. 1. While the state’s eviction moratorium was extended until Aug. 22, utility companies have already begun threatening shutoffs as Illinois moves into phase four of its five-stage reopening process. 


The work was initiated as part of a November 2017 agreement between Enbridge and the state of Michigan requiring Enbridge to improve environmental protections in the Great Lakes and other waterways. The new section of pipeline was placed into service on July 30 and is now operational, Duffy said in an email. 

Line 5 begins in Superior, Wisconsin, and ends in Sarnia, Ontario.


Duke Energy, a utility that provides power for up to 860,000 customers in southwest Ohio and northern Kentucky, could potentially resume disconnections for customers who are behind on their bills as early as August 10, pending a review from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. If Duke Energy receives the approval, over 45,000 Ohioans could see their water or power discontinued, as many face financial hardships due to job loss and national economic downturn due to COVID-19. 


The Back Forty Mine, a planned open-pit copper and zinc mine located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula along the Menominee River, is facing significant financial setbacks due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Even before COVID-19, Back Forty’s parent company Aquila Resources faced strong pushback from local environmentalist groups and the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, who hold a sacred connection to the Menominee River. Their concerns are that the tailings dam, a waste storage facility attached to the Back Forty project, would cause irreparable damage to local wetlands and the Menominee River – which drains into Lake Michigan – should the dam fail. 

Catch up on other Great Lakes energy headlines here:

Great Lakes Energy News Roundup: Ohio nuclear bailout repeal, Minnesota coal plants, Georgian Bay hydroelectric plant

Great Lakes Energy News Roundup: Ohio pipeline, Indiana rejects rate increase

Great Lakes Energy News Roundup: Lake Huron nuclear waste storage plan dropped, renewable energy in Midland

The Right to Mine: Michigan grants Canadian mining company permits while Wisconsin Menominee tribe fights those permits in court

In a time of COVID-19, millions of Americans are plagued by water debt

Featured image: $9,000 DWSD water bill. (Courtesy of Bill Kubota)


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