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Energy News Roundup: Illinois 6th in clean energy capacity, debate over Michigan risk of brownouts, the world’s potential impending energy crisis

Energy News Roundup: Illinois 6th in clean energy capacity, debate over Michigan risk of brownouts, the world’s potential impending energy crisis
June 3, 2022 Natasha Blakely

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 September, Illinois lawmakers passed a watershed clean energy law which established the state as a leader for its efforts to decarbonize. One of the key provisions in the law was a commitment to keep its existing nuclear power fleet online, even if the plants were not profitable. Now, because gas prices are high, some customers in Illinois are saving money on their energy bills.

Illinois is ranked sixth in the country for clean energy generated per square mile. Of the electricity used in Illinois, 50% is generated by nuclear power and 10% from wind, solar and battery stored energy.

Indiana:

Advocacy groups want Duke Energy Indiana to reopen the public comment period for its 2021 Integrated Resource Plan, saying the company broke state rules by “declining to properly provide opportunities for public engagement” during the initial IRP process. A Duke spokesperson strongly disputed the claim, saying the company exceeded the requirement for stakeholder meetings.

The IRP forecasts how a utility company expects to meet energy demands for the next 20 years and is updated every three years.

Michigan:

Couple the prospect of far more damaging storms in the future with the annual summer surge in air conditioning and the reviving economy’s power needs. Next, add new uses for power starting with electric vehicles. Finally, factor in a growing list of aging power plants that Michigan utilities have shut down.

That mix, here and in other states, has led to a sizzling insiders’ debate this spring that’s vital to every Michigander — and to the residents of 14 other states in the Midwest plus one Canadian province. The debate is whether Michigan and the rest of this sprawling interconnected midsection of the continent are at risk of power shortages and brownouts this summer — or not.

Minnesota:

The Minnesota Department of Commerce and the Iowa Utilities Board are supporting a complaint from a coalition led by Alliant Energy seeking to lower the equity ratio ITC Midwest uses to help set its transmission rates, according to comments filed at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The utility launched a time-of-use pilot in November 2020 in two contrasting Twin Cities neighborhoods. A report on its first year suggests it’s had a modest impact on peak demand but isn’t saving participants much money.

Climatologist Mark Seeley said at many Minnesota climate stations, the first four months of the year had daily wind gusts of 30 miles per hour or more on 60% of days.

That’s a huge jump from the average, when about 25% of days see wind gusts of more than 30 miles per hour.

The University of Minnesota Morris and Minnesota West Central Research and Outreach Center, or WCROC, have long embraced their windy, rural locale to advance wind and other clean energy technology. Now, they’ve set their sights on improving how that energy is stored.

Earlier this month, they launched the Center for Renewable Energy Storage Technology, or CREST.

New York:

The projects should generate enough power to serve 620,000 New York homes for at least 20 years, spur $2.7 billion in private investments and create more than 3,000 jobs in the state, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement.

Ohio:

Former PUCO Chair Asim Haque and former FirstEnergy Vice President Michael Dowling exchanged text messages on the same day the Supreme Court of Ohio held the charge unlawful. Challengers in the case had argued that the commission’s order imposing the charge basically had no strings attached to make FirstEnergy take any specific actions to modernize the grid.

“Simply, I don’t believe that the municipally-owned stadium that the Cleveland Browns play in should bear the name of this tainted company,” Ward 16 Councilman Brian Kazy said in a release. “The sign, seen as people enter Cleveland, gives the impression that they represent the city. This is false.”

Ontario:

During a visit at Laval Tool and Mould, Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford said the province was well-positioned to meet the energy needs of the region’s growing auto and industrial sectors, after reports earlier this month that South Korea chemicals company LG Chem may not choose Windsor for a $2.5-billion plant amid concerns about the region’s energy supply.

The Crown corporation has been selling clean energy credits since 2013, which others in the industry say they didn’t know. It’s not clear who’s buying them, where revenue is going or whether any emissions saved are being counted twice.

The Progressive Conservatives pledged in their 2018 campaign to lower hydro bills by 12 per cent, but the cost of electricity has gone in the opposite direction. In response the party shifted its messaging, saying instead that hydro bills are 12 per cent lower than they would have been if the policies of the last Liberal government remained in place.

Pennsylvania:

Electricity rates will rise for most Pennsylvania residents on Wednesday, June 1, just in time for what federal climate scientists say will be a hotter than average summer. PECO’s customers will see the lowest rise at 8.1%, while PPL, which serves some suburban Philadelphia residents, will experience a much higher 38% increase.

With many solar arrays ending up on farmland, a movement is fast taking hold to make sure that they will benefit the environment, agriculture and wildlife, and not just create a sea of silicon.

Wisconsin:

The town of Christiana is asking the courts to reverse the Public Service Commission’s approval of the Koshkonong Solar Energy Center, which would produce enough electricity to power about a third of the county’s homes.

The town argues the PSC wrongly approved a project that violates the state Constitution, lacked an adequate environmental review and was presented under false pretenses, among other deficiencies.

We round up several major clean energy projects moving forward in Wisconsin, and look at how our grid is situated to handle the electricity.

National:

Current and former energy officials tell CNN they worry that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in the wake of years of underinvestment in the energy sector have sent the world careening into a crisis that will rival or even exceed the oil crises of the 1970s and early 1980s.

House Republicans are launching a new energy and climate strategy as the party seeks to win over voters ahead of the midterm elections, though green groups have immediately criticized the plans as insufficient.


Catch more news at Great Lakes Now: 

Energy News Roundup: Numerous Great Lakes states grapple with outages and rising rates

Energy News Roundup: Ontario looks to phase out natural gas, wild rice could stop Line 3, Energy Department invests in cybersecurity

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