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Energy News Roundup: US invests in wave energy, celebrities urge Biden to stop Line 3, company seeks damages for Keystone XL cancellation

Energy News Roundup: US invests in wave energy, celebrities urge Biden to stop Line 3, company seeks damages for Keystone XL cancellation
July 9, 2021 Noah Bock

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

Click on the headline to read the full story:

Illinois:

In a surprise announcement last Thursday, NRG said it would close its Waukegan and Romeoville coal plants, but the community impacts are unclear as “just transition” provisions remain held up in state energy bill negotiations.

A home in Belleville is an eyesore, according to a lawsuit filed by the neighborhood homeowner’s association. It’s over the placement of solar panels.

The homeowners are Jennifer and Mark Bassler. They had solar panels professionally installed in October 2020, despite HOA rules that say they can only be in the back. They wanted maximum efficiency and impact for complete coverage. They and their attorney believed they were protected by Illinois law.

Michigan:

It was a contentious Tuesday night in Montcalm County as property owners gathered in protest and in support regarding the possibility of a wind farm in their community.

An open house was held by Apex Clean Energy at the Douglass Township Hall to share more information about the project. The company currently estimates that the wind farm it is developing would include 75 turbines that would then deliver power to the Michigan power grid, reducing the need to provide power from outside markets.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is seeking to stop a rate increase requested by Consumers Energy that would raise residential electric bills.

The Michigan Public Service Commission is considering an annual increase in revenues of $225 million, which would result in an 8.8% percent increase for residential ratepayers and a 5.5% increase overall when considering all ratepayer classes – residential, commercial and industrial, according to the Attorney General’s office.

Minnesota:

Over 200 celebrities, Democratic donors and environmental activists are calling on President Joe Biden to cancel a proposed oil pipeline expansion and rerouting in Minnesota.

Utility companies were barred from disconnecting service over unpaid bills during the pandemic. But that ended in May. And next month, families will need to pay their outstanding bills.

Right now, 340,000 Minnesota households have past-due electric and gas bills. Together, they owe about $140 million. But a new infusion of $167 million to the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s energy assistance program will help pay those debts.

New York:

A new initiative signed Wednesday by Monroe County Executive Adam Bello establishes a new sustainable energy loan program.

“Open C-PACE” will allow non-profit and commercial building owners to tap private financing, allowing for new construction to be built to higher energy standards, or for upgrades to be made to existing buildings.

Ohio:

Three Ohio electric companies owned by Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. will refund money collected from a guaranteed revenue provision included in a tainted energy bill, according to an order issued on Wednesday by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

Ohio Edison, Toledo Edison and Cleveland Electric Illuminating companies will begin crediting customers a total of $27.5 million. Amounts will vary based on customers’ electric use this August.

National:

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced that as much as $27 million in federal funding will be provided for research and development projects focused on wave energy.

In the latest attempt to encourage innovation within a sector that has a very small footprint compared to other types of renewable energy, the DOE said Tuesday the funding would aim to “advance wave energy technologies toward commercial viability.”

TC Energy Corporation, the company that developed the Keystone XL pipeline project, is seeking to recover more than $15 billion in damages from the United States, claiming the US government breached its free trade obligations when it revoked the permit for the project.

The rocky times of 2020 are well behind the energy sector at this point. Last year there were many premature obituaries written for the energy sector, but it has certainly shown plenty of life in 2021.

The energy sector has soared from the last quarter of 2020. After performing as the top S&P 500 sector for two straight quarters, the energy sector slipped to third place in the recently completed second quarter. But that was still good enough to keep energy in first place for the first half of 2021.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday removed a hurdle to the construction of a natural-gas pipeline through Pennsylvania and New Jersey, ruling the pipeline developer could invoke the power of the federal government to take state property needed for the project.

The court’s 5-4 opinion, by Chief Justice John Roberts, handed a considerable victory to the natural-gas industry by rejecting New Jersey’s challenge to the actions of the PennEast Pipeline Co., a joint venture of several energy companies that aims to build a 116-mile interstate pipeline.

With congressional Democrats seemingly on board with a two-track infrastructure strategy — saving liberal priorities the president has called “human infrastructure” for the coming months — it appears as though the more traditional bipartisan infrastructure plan will soon face a vote in Washington.

The plan, which calls for spending $1.2 trillion over the next eight years, is already on somewhat fragile ground. Republicans involved in the negotiations have expressed their willingness to withdraw support if their concerns are vaulted over by a later reconciliation bill, which is exactly what Nancy Pelosi has called for.


Catch up on other Great Lakes energy headlines here:

Energy News Roundup: Solar-powered pork in Illinois, Michigan gas prices rise, Bitcoin creates Mining Council

Energy News Roundup: Illinois Senate votes on energy plan, Enbridge protests in Minnesota, Solar-Panel factory in Ohio

Clean megaprojects divide surprise group: environmentalists

With Line 5 closure, a ‘game of chicken’ over how to heat Upper Peninsula

Crisis Response: President Biden has already kickstarted the country’s new approach to climate change


Featured image: In this June 29, 2018, file photo, pipeline used to carry crude oil is shown at the Superior, Wis., terminal of Enbridge Energy. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

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