Great Lakes Energy News Roundup: Energy-efficient fertilizer in Minnesota, Ohio bailout law repeal, Wisconsin utility rate freeze

Great Lakes Energy News Roundup: Energy-efficient fertilizer in Minnesota, Ohio bailout law repeal, Wisconsin utility rate freeze
August 20, 2020 Ian Wendrow
Photo by FirstEnergy Corp. via flickr.com cc 2.0

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

In this edition: A new bill in Illinois could lead to closed coal plants being repurposed for solar power producing and storage; Minnesota agriculture startup exploring new ways to produce water and energy efficient fertilizer; Ohio lawmakers struggle over repeal of nuclear bailout bill as corruption scandal unfolds; and Wisconsin power utility Alliant Energy strikes deal to freeze electricity and natural gas rates for one year.

Click on the headline to read the full story:


Through the Illinois Coal to Solar Energy Storage Act, closed coal plants will be repurposed for cleaner energy. The Duck Creek Plant in Canton is one of several facilities that could be affected if the act passes. The plan aims to re-purpose closed coal plants and Vistra wants to turn them into solar producers and battery storage plants.


Scientists at the University of Minnesota are partnering with Kennedy Research, an agricultural startup, to develop a prototype that would allow Minnesota farmers to source their own nitrogen fertilizer in-state. Minnesota produces no fertilizer of its own, the majority of production sites are centered around cities like Houston and Pittsburgh. Not only would this prototype be a historic first for the state, it would also develop nitrogen fertilizer through a process that uses significantly less water or energy. Current nitrogen production draws the element from the air and liquifies it using hydrogen, whereas the prototypes developed by the University result in nitrate-infused water.


Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine approved the ratification of House Bill 6 last year, a law that provided bailouts to the David-Besse and Perry nuclear plants operated by Energy Harbor, but is now calling on the Ohio legislature to publicly debate a potential repeal after revelations that former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and four others may have been involved in a quid pro quo scheme benefiting FirstEnergy Solutions, the company that became Energy Harbor after a bankruptcy restructuring. The federal indictment against Householder and his allies allege that they used $61 million to help elect sympathetic legislators, including Householder and then used their newly won position to push for House Bill 6’s passage.


Wisconsin state regulators approved a plan by Alliant Energy to freeze electricity and natural gas rates until next year while pushing to increase company revenue. Environmental and clean power advocates like Sierra Club and Clean Wisconsin argue that this plan sets up a future rate hike in 2021 and that Alliant’s proposal did not provide a fair input from the public. Clean Wisconsin noted that Alliant Energy had two years to prepare its filing while Public Service Commission staff had only two months to prepare a responding memo. Public comment was limited to two weeks.

Catch up on other Great Lakes energy headlines here:

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

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

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: The Perry Nuclear Power Plant in Lake County, Ohio (Photo by FirstEnergy Corp. via flickr.com cc 2.0)


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