Energy News Roundup: Community solar projects seen as key step toward energy justice in Illinois, Great Lakes offshore wind farm put on hold

Energy News Roundup: Community solar projects seen as key step toward energy justice in Illinois, Great Lakes offshore wind farm put on hold
December 28, 2023 Kathy Johnson, Great Lakes Now

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:



Pritzker signs Illinois measure allowing new small-scale nuclear technology — St. Louis Public Radio

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs legislation lifting the state’s moratorium on new nuclear plants by allowing limited development of small modular reactors.

Illinois farmers want carbon pipeline moratorium, eminent domain protection — Iowa Capital Dispatch

The Illinois Farm Bureau adopts policies calling for a temporary moratorium on carbon pipelines and to prohibit the use of eminent domain for those projects.

Chicago utility pushes back against state oversight, asks for further rate increase — Pantagraph

Critics say Chicago utility Peoples Gas is attempting to override a recent regulatory decision limiting the company’s rate increase request by seeking expedited approval of critical upgrades.

Smaller electric bill increases for Chicagoans as regulators pull plug on ComEd’s rate-hike bid — Sun-Times

Illinois regulators reject separate $1 billion-plus rate increase requests from ComEd and Ameren, saying the proposals conflict with the state’s Climate and Equitable Jobs Act meant to keep rates affordable.

Community solar projects seen as key step toward energy justice in Illinois — Energy News Network

An Illinois agency recommends a Chicago environmental justice group to receive $12.5 million in renewable energy credits for three community solar projects that would benefit Black, Brown, low and moderate-income subscribers.

Little Village residents install air sensors to monitor neighborhood pollution — WBEZ

Residents in a majority-Latino neighborhood on Chicago’s southwest side install air sensors to monitor pollution from non-stop truck activity and heavy industry as public officials fail to act.

Sentencing delayed for ComEd bribery defendants; request to hold up Madigan corruption case also expected — Chicago Sun-Times

Sentencing has been delayed for four people, including ComEd’s former CEO, convicted of a conspiracy to bribe former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Clean energy grant helping SRC retrain former coal plant workers — WCBU

State grant funding will help a central Illinois college retrain workers from two nearby shuttered coal plants on low-emission diesel engines.



New report highlights ways Lower Great Lakes could help US reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions — Indiana Public Media

A new report examines emission-reduction strategies for lower Great Lakes states that include direct air capture and storage.

Friendly competition heats up energy conservation among neighbors — Route Fifty

Software developed at Purdue University that allows users to track their energy use and compare it with others has led to a 30% reduction in energy consumption across 130 homes in four Indiana cities.

Indiana solar project moves forward with tax equity deal — PV Magazine

A developer secures an $85 million investment from Bank of America to back construction on a 188 MW Indiana solar project that will include pollinator habitats.



Beaver Island explores community solar project for energy security — MLive

Officials explore the potential for community solar to provide power to the 600 year-round residents and thousands of summer visitors to the largest island in Lake Michigan.

EV battery startup ONE names Paul Humphries as CEO, replacing founder — Reuters

Michigan-based battery startup Our Next Energy demotes its founder and CEO and installs a board member to oversee the company, which recently laid off 128 employees amid struggles to raise funding.

U.P. residents talk Line 5 tunnel — Mining Journal

Residents in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula urge state and federal regulators to closely scrutinize Enbridge’s plan to tunnel Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac based on public safety and environmental concerns.

Michigan utilities explore longer-term funding to address extreme weather — Bridge

Michigan’s two largest investor-owned utilities seek long-term funding, potentially through bill surcharges, to harden their electric grid in the face of more climate-related disruption.

EV supplier plans $7.9M expansion in Holland — Crain’s Grand Rapids Business

An automotive supplier that recycles and reuses electric vehicle batteries and other components announces a nearly $8 million expansion in western Michigan.

Whitmer plan would give rebates to Michiganders who buy new EV, other cars — Bridge

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proposes a $25 million program that would provide $2,500 rebates for union-made electric or hybrid vehicles and $2,000 for non-union-made cars.

Talks continue on utility-scale solar facilities — Tri-County Times

A southeastern Michigan township considers its options for commercial solar regulations following the passage of a new state law shifting permitting authority in some cases to state regulators.

Why more than 60 Indigenous nations oppose the Line 5 oil pipeline — Grist

The controversy surrounding a proposed Great Lakes tunnel for Enbridge’s Line 5 oil pipeline is expected to intensify over the next few years, with more than 60 Indigenous nations opposed to the project.

How 2023 changed the way states do climate policy — E&E News

State-level clean energy policies had a strong year in 2023 as Democrats in states like Minnesota and Michigan treated climate action like a political asset.

Gov. Whitmer shares thoughts on energy package, UP legislators respond — WLUC

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer responds to critics of the state’s clean energy laws by noting that the state will help workers in legacy industries obtain skills for renewable energy jobs.



Low-emissions steelmaking could be big business for Minnesota’s Iron Range, experts say — Energy News Network

The transition to lower-emission steel could create new economic opportunities for northern Minnesota taconite mines, including the potential to produce higher-grade pellets that can be processed with electricity instead of fossil fuels.

Heat pumps poised to accelerate Minnesota’s green energy transition — MPR

Electric air-source heat pumps could play a key role in helping Minnesota meet emission-reduction targets, especially as federal funding reduces the cost of systems.

How giving trucks an electric boost can help cut mining pollution in Minnesota — Energy News Network

A Minnesota mining company and its electric utility seek federal funding to pilot a project that would significantly reduce fuel use by partially power diesel mining trucks with electricity.

Minnesota regulators will not investigate Xcel on community solar restrictions — Star Tribune

Minnesota regulators unanimously dismiss a complaint filed by solar advocates that claimed Xcel Energy’s grid management is restricting rooftop and community solar installations.

Xcel Energy fined $14,000 after leaks of radioactive tritium from its Monticello plant in Minnesota — Associated Press

Minnesota regulators fine Xcel Energy $14,000 for leaks of radioactive tritium earlier this year from a nuclear plant about 40 miles northwest of Minneapolis.

Court upholds air permit for proposed NewRange Copper Nickel mine — MPR

The Minnesota Court of Appeals upholds a key air permit for a proposed copper and nickel mine, though the project is still in limbo as other permits have been revoked or are in court.

Minnesota agency in hiring mode as it prepares to roll out new energy programs — Energy News Network

A Minnesota agency overseeing the state’s clean energy transition adds 64 positions to its staff of roughly 90 to help manage new state energy-related programs and capitalize on federal funding opportunities.



Only Permitted Great Lakes Offshore Wind Farm Put on Hold — Inside Climate News

An Ohio offshore wind project that would have been the first in the Great Lakes is indefinitely suspended as the U.S. Energy Department revokes $37 million in funding for failing to meet project milestones.

Demise of Icebreaker project a sorry result of Ohio’s concerted anti-renewable-energy efforts: editorial — Cleveland.com

The recent indictment of Ohio’s former top utility regulator “doesn’t tell the full story” of how he and others also stunted renewable energy projects, including an offshore wind pilot project in Cleveland, an editorial board writes.

Ohio gas bills may go up with a pipeline provision added to this legislation — WCMH

A late amendment to an Ohio bill would allow gas companies to add bill surcharges to support gas pipelines for major economic development projects.

Anonymously funded group stokes local opposition to Ohio solar project — Energy News Network

An anonymously funded group is spreading misinformation about a proposed 120 MW Ohio solar project, including at a recent event featuring speakers with ties to fossil fuel and climate denial groups.

OPSB extends construction timeframe for natural gas-fired power plant in Lucas County — Farm and Dairy

Ohio regulators approve an 18-month construction start extension request from the developer of a 955 MW natural gas plant that was originally approved six years ago.

Spirit of giving is central to Cleveland-area company’s blades-to-benches business — Energy News Network

A Cleveland-area company aims to grow the market for its benches, picnic tables and other outdoor furniture crafted from recycled wind turbine blades.

New utility-scale solar project proposed for Greene County — Yellow Springs News

The developer of a previously denied 175 MW solar project in Ohio is exploring new land outside Dayton for a potential project.



Solar can save renters big money, but Wisconsin law gets in the way — Capital Times

A Wisconsin law that requires multifamily housing owners to get permission from their utility or the state before installing onsite renewable energy has limited rooftop solar installations at apartments, condos and affordable housing projects.

Half of a controversial transmission line comes online in Wisconsin — Wisconsin Public Radio

Half of the 102-mile Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line comes online in Wisconsin, with owners saying the second half the long debated project is expected to be in service by June.

Can a balloon-like battery move the needle on clean energy in Wisconsin? — Energy News Network

A balloon-like facility coming online in Wisconsin when a coal plant closes in the next few years aims to demonstrate a new form of energy storage that can support more renewables on the grid.

Wisconsin made progress toward clean energy transition in 2023, but more work is needed — Wisconsin Public Radio

Wisconsin is poised to add nearly 1,300 MW of new solar capacity in 2023 and 2024, though environmental groups say more renewable energy development is needed to meet climate goals.



US Climate Activists at COP28 Slam Their Home Country for Hypocrisy — Inside Climate News

U.S. climate activists criticize the Biden administration for hypocrisy for pitching the country as a climate leader despite growing domestic oil and gas production and federal funding being directed to carbon capture.

How EPA’s methane rule is dividing state agencies — E&E News

The U.S. EPA’s new methane emission-reduction rules divide states, particularly large oil and gas producers, over whether it will limit production.

Building transmission takes forever. The Biden administration is pushing to change that. — States Newsroom

The Biden administration is prioritizing ways to speed up the process for building transmission lines, which officials say need to double to meet a 100% clean power target by 2035.

Grid monitor warns of blackout risks as coal plants retire — E&E News

The North American Electric Reliability Corp warns that most regions face growing risks of rolling blackouts as more coal plants are retired and large wind and solar projects aren’t built fast enough.

Electric vehicles owners and solar rooftops find mutual attraction — Associated Press

Automakers are tapping into a growing consumer trend of pairing electric vehicles with home rooftop solar systems by connecting customers with other energy services.

Revealed: US utility firms offer builders cash and trips to fit new homes with gas appliances — The Guardian

U.S. gas utilities serving more than 35 million customers offer builders and contractors incentives to keep fossil fuels in new buildings, part of a longstanding relationship that could impede electrification.

More US auto buyers are turning to hybrids as sales of electric vehicles slow — Associated Press

U.S. gas-electric hybrid vehicle sales soar as electric vehicle sales grow slower than automakers’ forecasts.

Catch more news at Great Lakes Now: 

Energy News Roundup: Renewable energy fuels major economic payoffs in rural Indiana, Amazon announces its first Michigan solar farm project

Energy News Roundup: States rebrand energy to meet electricity targets, Ohio legislation to declare nuclear power as ‘green energy’


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