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

Energy News Roundup: Indiana sees price hikes, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio struggle with solar
July 1, 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:

Officials in Normal, Illinois, see Rivian’s growth and corporate culture as a key part of the city’s long-term sustainability plan.

 

Indiana:

Extreme heat could lead to an “energy emergency” in Indiana, 14 other states and a Canadian province this summer as people and businesses use more electricity for air conditioning.

That’s according to a report by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation. It said there’s not enough energy on the regional grid to meet peak demand.

The Central Indiana utility company has requested a fuel adjustment charge (FAC) rate increase from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. This would result in an increase of $24.39 on a utility bill, or 18.9%, for an average residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month.

Homeowners in southern Indiana will see their electricity bills rise, again, in the coming years after the state approved a utility’s request to build a new power plant — one the utility says will rarely operate.

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission on Tuesday gave the thumbs up to CenterPoint Energy to build two new natural gas combustion turbines in place of one of its former coal plants. The approval also means that the utility can ask to increase rates so customers are left covering the cost.

Solar power is about to become much more expensive for Hoosiers as a state policy meant to help boost the renewable energy in the state expires on July 1. Once that deadline passes, Indiana utility customers will no longer be allowed to participate in what is called net metering when they install solar panels on their roofs.

 

Michigan:

Michigan Energy First funded the research of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a federal research lab in the Bay Area, into carbon capture and local sentiment on it.

Michigan regulators on Thursday approved Consumers Energy’s plan to be one of the first utilities in the country no longer to burn coal by 2025, a move the Jackson-based energy company says still will offer reliability and save customers money.

The Michigan Public Service Commission approved the CMS Corp. subsidiary’s integrated resource plan, a 20-year blueprint illustrating how the company expects to meet the needs of its 1.8 million residential and business customers throughout the Lower Peninsula. The plan moves up the retirements of its coal plants by as much as 15 years and will save customers an estimated $600 million by 2040.

 

Minnesota:

In total, the deal struck over the energy budget would have spent about $46.5 million from the state’s general fund over the next three years and another $36 million from the Renewable Development Account.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals has sided both in favor of solar developers and county officials in recent cases that challenged the denial of permits to build community solar projects in rural areas.

On top of soaring gas prices, Minnesotans who get their natural gas from CenterPoint Energy are on the hook for $466 million to cover five days of energy costs when prices surged during the 2021 winter storm that crippled Texas’ power grid.

Minnesotans are slated to pay an additional $7.44 a month on average for 63 months to pay for the gas used during the storm, while CenterPoint isn’t slated to feel any pain from that event, as CEO David Lesar told shareholders in May 2021.

Space constraints, energy savings and the long-term return on investment convinced St. Paul Public Schools to install a ground-source geothermal heat pump system at a high school that until now hasn’t had a cooling system.

 

Ohio:

Some of the measures that the Biden administration announced Monday to promote more widespread solar energy adoption will benefit China’s state-subsidized solar industry, advocates of building more solar panels in Ohio said Monday.

A FirstEnergy end run may help it score approval of a settlement agreement, and more from this month’s Eye on Utilities newsletter.

Scientists working with community organizations established a network of local-level air monitors, finding details that regional monitors can miss.

 

Ontario:

A union representing SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. engineers has filed a complaint with the national labour board alleging bad-faith bargaining after a subsidiary ordered workers back to the office full-time with one business day’s notice.

The complaint comes after CBC News reported Wednesday that employees at Candu Energy Inc. were given next to no notice to return to the office full-time, five days a week, according to the union that represents engineers, scientists and technical and administrative staff.

 

Pennsylvania:

Democratic nominee Josh Shapiro and Republican nominee Doug Mastriano both say they want Pennsylvania to remain an energy powerhouse. But their platforms have stark contrasts. Shapiro wants to expand regulations on drilling and promote renewable energy. Mastriano has pledged to boost the state’s fossil fuel industries, including by allowing drilling in state parks and forests.

The U.S. Commerce Department is looking into whether China is using four southeast Asia countries to skirt tariffs on solar materials. Initially, investigators said products could be subject to retroactive tariffs if the companies are found to be in violation of U.S. trade policy.

The White House says the vast majority of solar products in the U.S. are imports. Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam sent about three-quarters of imported materials in 2020.

The Biden administration is ending its hands-off approach to a Commerce Department tariff investigation that has effectively frozen the solar power industry in the United States.

A probe into whether Chinese solar manufacturers had been improperly funneling parts through four other Asian countries had cut solar installation forecasts nearly in half — and done so at a time when the Biden White House’s ambitious clean energy agenda is stalled in Congress.

 

Wisconsin:

Wisconsin’s largest utilities will delay the retirement of three large coal plants, including the Oak Creek Power Plant, due to energy supply fears.

In separate statements Thursday, We Energies and Alliant Energy said the decision was made based on global supply chain and economic challenges along with a potential energy shortage in the summer of 2023.

Renewable energy advocates are again asking Wisconsin regulators to bless a financing mechanism that could expand access to solar energy.

This time a former renewable energy advocate could cast the deciding vote.

Two groups — Vote Solar and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association — last week filed petitions asking the Public Service Commission to declare that third-party financing is legal under state law.


Catch more news at Great Lakes Now: 

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: Numerous Great Lakes states grapple with outages and rising rates

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