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Energy News Roundup: Indigenous communities take lead on energy projects, climate bill defeat impacts solar production

Energy News Roundup: Indigenous communities take lead on energy projects, climate bill defeat impacts solar production
July 28, 2022 Kathy Johnson

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:

The Piatt County Board in central Illinois is reviewing amendments to its wind energy regulations to provide more protection for drainage districts prior to approval of a new 300 MW wind farm.

 

Indiana:

All five of Indiana’s investor-owned utilities have won approval to not only slash the rate paid for customers’ surplus solar power, but also change how solar output is calculated in a way that drastically reduces the payments under a 2017 law that gutted net metering.

Utilities say they are protecting other customers from subsidizing those with solar panels, but advocates say the outcome threatens to put rooftop solar out of reach for all but the wealthiest customers.

CenterPoint’s natural gas turbine proposal to state regulators didn’t include more than $77 million in necessary equipment for the project, an Indiana consumer agency claimed Monday.

CenterPoint wants to replace an aging coal-burning plant with natural gas turbines and pitched a $334 million price tag for the work to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. The consumer counselor’s office believes the actual cost of the project should be $411 million according to its petition.

 

Michigan:

In an Associated Press interview, General Motors CEO Mary Barra says she is confident GM can unseat Tesla with higher-priced specialty vehicles, and it will beat Elon Musk to high-range EVs at prices that people can afford.

Since 2014, the Eagle Mine in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has put America on the map for a critical mineral that is key to reducing climate-warming carbon emissions from automobiles. The mine, owned by Lundin Mining Co. of Toronto, is the only place in the U.S. where nickel, a mineral which helps increase energy storage in lithium-ion batteries and thus boosts the range an electric car can drive on a single charge, is produced.

Southwest Michigan economic development officials are hoping to lure new employers to the region to help offset job losses from the retirement of the Palisades nuclear power plant.

The most pressing challenge currently facing electrical grids is energy storage according to Timothy Scarlett, associate professor at Michigan Technological University.

Since 2019, a group of engineers and scientists has been studying the potential reuse of abandoned mines as facilities for underground pump-hydroelectric energy storage.

 

Minnesota:

A judge acquitted Shanai Matteson on charges that she aided and abetted trespassing last year in connection with protests over the Line 3 oil pipeline project, saying there was insufficient evidence to sustain a conviction. The acquittal brought renewed calls for Minnesota officials to drop the charges against hundreds of others involved in the same protests.

Since 2020, Warren, Minnesota, a town of 1,600 people has been participating in a pilot project intended to address energy security concerns by producing more energy than it uses through solar panels, efficiency and other strategies.

New rules requiring Twin Cities home sellers to disclose energy efficiency scores have had little impact on buyers’ decisions so far because of the tight housing market and other factors.

 

Ohio:

Our electric power systems, while once the pinnacle of American innovation, were built with on 20th Century technology in a 20th Century climate. But we are well into the 21st Century and our national electrical grid must now meet and exceed the demands of the modern world.

Admiral Dennis McGinn, ret., who served as U.S. assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations and environment offers his insight on why and how strengthening the national electric grid contributes to national security.

The Marion County Commissioners in central Ohio approved an agreement with a solar developer to build a 100 MW facility on approximately 700 acres of land.

FirstEnergy never refunded customers for a failed 2016 grid modernization plan. Now, it is seeking another rate increase for a proposed $626 million modernization plan that includes the installation of smart meters and other equipment to reduce power outages.

 

Ontario:

Indigenous peoples and organizations across Ontario are leading the development of innovative energy projects that will contribute to cleaner and more affordable electricity, and more prosperous communities. To support these efforts, Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator is providing more than $4.8 million to 47 recipients through its Indigenous Energy Support Programs.

 

Wisconsin:

The Wisconsin Electric Vehicle Infrastructure plan will spend $78 million in federal infrastructure funding to build EV charging stations along designated alternative fuel corridors, including the interstate system and key highways such as 51, 53 and 151.

Wisconsin’s largest utility company has received approval to replace some of its natural gas supply with renewable methane from local farms. The Public Service Commission voted unanimously Thursday to approve WEC Energy Group’s $75 million pilot program intended to help its utilities meet their gas supply needs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, providing farmers with a new revenue stream and reducing the risk of groundwater contamination.

Oneida Nation officials are considering a utility-scale solar power facility on their reservation to provide emergency back-up power for essential services. The project would be supported with federal grant funds.

 

National:

The collapse of legislation that included subsidies for domestic solar panel output is a blow to efforts to wean the solar industry off major reliance on China, according to Mark Widmar CEO of First Solar Inc., the largest U.S. solar panel producer.


Catch more news at Great Lakes Now: 

Energy News Roundup: Green jobs, solar farms and the value of trees

Energy News Roundup: Indiana sees price hikes, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio struggle with solar

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