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Energy News Roundup: Tech giants race to buy renewable energy, Line 3 dispute reaches Minnesota Supreme Court, FirstEnergy settles in Ohio bribery case

Energy News Roundup: Tech giants race to buy renewable energy, Line 3 dispute reaches Minnesota Supreme Court, FirstEnergy settles in Ohio bribery case
July 23, 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:

Michigan:

Two “town hall meetings” have been scheduled to discuss controversial plans for Grand Haven’s Board of Light and Power.

The Grand Haven City Council earlier this month requested staff organize the meetings to provide information and receive input on the BLP’s plans to construct a gas-powered electric generating plant at the former site of the demolished J.B. Sims power plant.

Minnesota:

Tribal and environmental groups opposed to Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 oil pipeline project asked the Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday to overturn a lower court decision affirming the approvals granted by independent regulators that allowed construction to begin last December.

The legal move came as protests continue along the route in northern Minnesota. More than 500 protesters have been arrested or issued citations since construction on the Minnesota leg of the project began in December, but they have failed so far to persuade President Joe Biden’s administration to stop the project. Meanwhile, opponents have been demanding more transparency about a spill last week of drilling mud into a river that the pipeline will cross.

Ohio:

FirstEnergy Corp. would pay a $230 million penalty and fully cooperate with federal authorities as part of an agreement announced Thursday to settle federal charges against the company in a sweeping bribery scheme in Ohio.

As part of the deal to end the government’s prosecution, FirstEnergy agrees to make public all its related campaign contributions within 30 days, to pay a $230 million penalty and to continue carrying out sweeping internal changes aimed at preventing future corporate misdeeds.

A legal challenge by two lakeview condo dwellers seeking to block Lake Erie’s first offshore wind farm faces a high legal bar before the Ohio Supreme Court — with equally high stakes for clean energy in the region.

The Icebreaker Windpower project’s six turbines would sit roughly 8 to 10 miles northwest of Cleveland and produce roughly 20.7 megawatts of electricity per year. The Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation has worked on the project for more than a decade.

Ontario:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revealed the federal government is set to spend $5 million to build 328 energy efficient affordable rental homes across southern Ontario with 95 of them residing in Hamilton.

During one of two stops in Hamilton on Tuesday, the PM said the passive homes will be built through the $200 million fund Affordable Housing Innovation Fund created in 2016 which has 30,000 affordable housing units earmarked for Canadians.

Wisconsin:

A coalition of business, health and renewable energy organizations has formed to lobby for expanded access to solar energy in Wisconsin.

Eight organizations working as the Wisconsin Community Solar Economic Alliance are pushing for passage of a Republican bill that would allow businesses and residents to invest in private “community solar” gardens.

National:

The Energy Department on Wednesday announced a new effort to tackle one of the toughest technical challenges facing President Biden’s push for an electric grid dominated by solar and wind power — namely, what to do when the sun stops shining and the wind stops blowing.

The government is chasing a promising but uncertain solution: a low-cost way to store electricity generated by the sun or wind for hours, days or even weeks at a time, saving it for when it’s most needed. That goes far beyond what current batteries can do. While dozens of companies are working on different ideas for so-called “long-duration energy storage,” most are still too expensive to be useful.

The race to secure electricity deals for power-hungry data centers has tech companies reshaping the renewable-energy market and grappling with a new challenge: how to ensure their investments actually reduce emissions.

Amazon.com Inc. said it planned Wednesday to announce commitments to buy 1.5 gigawatts of production capacity from 14 new solar and wind plants around the world as part of its push to purchase enough renewable energy to cover all of the company’s activities by 2025.

The International Energy Agency said in a report Tuesday that even as carbon dioxide emissions are set to hit a record high in 2023, international governments are set to only put 2 percent of their COVID-19 recovery spending toward renewable energy.

In the report, the IEA noted that last year it recommended a total of $1 trillion of any coronavirus recovery funds be put toward renewable energy sources.

However, of the $16 trillion global governments are putting toward recovery efforts, only about 2 percent is earmarked toward transitions to renewable energy, according to the report.

Governments and companies will need to invest at least $92 trillion by 2050 in order to cut emissions fast enough to prevent the worst effects of climate change.

That’s the latest forecast from analysts at BloombergNEF, who see that scale of spending as necessary to drive a rapid electrification of the global economy and slash reliance on fossil fuels.

OPEC and allied nations agreed Sunday to raise the production limits imposed on five countries next year and boost their production by 2 million barrels per day by the end of this year, ending a dispute that roiled oil markets.

The disagreement, sparked by a demand by the United Arab Emirates to increase its own production, temporarily upended an earlier meeting of the cartel. In a statement Sunday, the cartel announced that Iraq, Kuwait, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the UAE would see their limits rise.


Catch up on other Great Lakes energy headlines here:

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

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

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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