North Carolina lawmakers claim environmental hazard from solar

SOLAR: North Carolina regulators yesterday approved a solar microgrid in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that will allow Duke Energy to remove a transmission line. (Southeast Energy News)

ALSO:
• Duke Energy may seek help from the North Carolina legislature in its effort to change the way solar projects are financed in the state. (Charlotte Business Journal)
• Some North Carolina lawmakers claim decommissioning of solar panels poses an environmental hazard, and are seeking another study of the issue. (WRAL)
• Florida Power & Light is partnering with businesses and advocacy groups to help veterans find work in the state’s solar energy sector. (Electric Light & Power)

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Florida utility wrote parts of bill creating new requirements for solar

SOLAR: Despite having strong potential, a confluence of policy barriers is still holding back solar growth in Alabama. (Southeast Energy News)

ALSO:
• Florida’s largest utility wrote portions of a bill creating new requirements for rooftop solar on homes and businesses. (Miami Herald)
• Duke Energy is asking regulators to cut prices it pays to independent solar power producers by 30 percent. (Triangle Business Journal)
• A Virginia county considers changing its zoning law to allow a proposed 11 MW solar project. (Charlottesville Tomorrow)

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Fate of West Virginia ‘forced pooling’ bill remains unclear

NATURAL GAS: A group of students, faculty and staff says Duke University’s proposed new campus power plant should be fueled from methane from hog waste, not natural gas. (Southeast Energy News)

ALSO:
• Meanwhile, Clemson residents and members of the city council voiced their opposition to Duke Energy’s proposed generating station, although its site is owned by Clemson University and not subject to city oversight. (Greenville Online)
• The fate of the natural gas industry’s controversial bill to help force drilling on unwilling land owners in West Virginia was up in the air Tuesday. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)
• A chemical leak at a natural gas facility made residents in a poor Alabama community sick. (Los Angeles Times)

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Florida utility announces 1,500 MW of new solar

SOLAR:
• Florida Power & Light announced Monday it will build another 1,500 megawatts of solar arrays, including Miami-Dade’s first-ever solar plant. (Saint Peters Blog, Miami Herald)
• A Tampa lawmaker says it’s crucial that the state extend solar tax credits, which will expire in the next few years. (Saint Peters Blog)

COAL ASH: Virginia lawmakers are set to vote on changes to a coal ash bill recommended by Gov. Terry McAuliffe when they reconvene on Wednesday. (WTOP)

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COAL: A new report says the federal government isn’t overseeing how abandoned coal mine cleanup funds are being spent by states. (The Hill)

ALSO:
• Environmentalists urged West Virginia lawmakers to remove language from a coal bill that would force state regulators not to consider of the diversity of aquatic communities when they assess the state’s rivers. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)
• Citing Tennessee Valley counties, scientists said Monday there is new evidence that pollution from coal plants leads to lower birth weights in newborns. (Agence France Presse)
• President Trump’s rollback of environmental rules threatens a multi-billion dollar cleanup industry in Kentucky. (WKU)
• Mississippi Power said Monday its delayed Kemper plant project should to be in service using lignite by April 30 and that increased estimated costs will not be paid by customers.

Coal miners, lawmakers push federal government for health care

COAL: A West Virginia senator told coal miners there’s enough bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate to pass a bill that would continue to fund their health care as coal miners vow 30 days of pressure on Congress to act. (Charleston Gazette-Mail, Washington Times)

ALSO:
• A bipartisan group of lawmakers from coal country, including Virginia and West Virginia, has asked President Donald Trump for more money for black lung health clinics. (NPR)
• Appalachia has a “complicated, often broken or mismanaged system” to help coal miner with black lung disease. (WV Public Broadcasting)
• Virginia’s Republican lawmakers and Democratic governor are at odds over the best way to help Virginia’s struggling coal country. (Virginia Public Radio)
• A bipartisan group of lawmakers from Appalachian states introduced a bill to speed up payments of $1 billion to communities affected by the coal industry’s decline. (Times News)
• The personal finances of an official with West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection are being reviewed under the conflict-of-interest provisions of the federal strip mining law. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)
• Demand from steelmakers boosts coal shipments and prompts operators to reopen mines in Virginia and West Virginia. (Daily Press)

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COAL ASH:
• The Tennessee Valley Authority has begun drying and capping the last coal ash impoundment at a plant in rural Alabama, which it decided to close in 2013. (Times Daily)
• The Tennessee Valley Authority is seeking public comment on a plan to switch from wet to dry coal ash storage at a western Kentucky power plant. (Associated Press)

FRACKING: Florida lawmakers now say the possibility of a fracking ban is dead for this year because some House Republicans want a study to determine the potential impacts. (Saint Peters Blog)

OIL: The federal government will hold five public meetings around the Gulf Coast on the proposed region-wide oil lease sales next year. (Associated Press)

UTILITIES: Customers of the four investor-owned electric utilities in Arkansas are now paying more for their electricity because of the price increase of natural gas. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

CLIMATE:
• Large shareholders are supporting a proposal to require Duke Energy to detail the impact that the Paris Agreement’s targets on global warming would have on its operations. (Charlotte Business-Journal)
• A Louisiana lawmaker says President Donald Trump’s unraveling of climate change rules will help his state fight climate-induced sea level rise. (The Times-Picayune)

SOLAR:
• Solar advocates say they “broke the logjam” in Virginia with new legislation this year. (Virginia Business)
• A study says Virginia’s solar job market grew 65 percent last year, which Gov. Terry McAuliffe says is a testament to his administration’s focus on solar energy. (Associated Press)
• A South Carolina town now produces 2 MW of solar power with the addition of an array on a manufacturing plant. (Post and Courier)
• Georgia solar customers feel “victimized” by sudden changes in billing.

‘Every option is on the table’ for Georgia nuclear plant

NUCLEAR: Georgia Power tells state regulators that “every option is on the table” to pursue completion of the Plant Vogtle expansion. (Atlanta Journal Constitution)

ALSO:
• The owners of the V.C. Summer and Vogtle nuclear projects will pay more than $165 million in liens filed last week against the plants. (Charlotte Business Journal, subscription)
• Westinghouse has received tentative permission to take out an $800 million bankruptcy loan. (Reuters)

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Duke Energy sues insurers over $1 billion in coal ash claims

COAL ASH: Duke Energy has filed suit against 30 of its former insurance companies for refusing to pay more than $1 billion in coal-ash environmental claims in North and South Carolina. (Triangle Business Journal)

WIND: West Virginia regulators approve a utility’s request to purchase 120 MW of power from an Indiana wind farm. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)

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NUCLEAR: The two utilities building the nuclear reactors will spend at least the next 30 days determining how to proceed now that Westinghouse has filed for bankruptcy, though Scana’s CEO said the company will continue with the construction of its own two reactors at the V.C. Summer plant in South Carolina.

Even in Southeast, resistance to Trump on climate rollback

CLIMATE: Though President Donald Trump’s executive action on Tuesday targeting the Clean Power Plan will affect the coal industry in several ways, it will likely bring minimal benefit to coal-producing regions. (Associated Press, McClatchy)

ALSO:
• Trump’s order wins praise from officials in West Virginia, Alabama and other states. (The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register, Gadsden Times)
• The city of Atlanta says it will continue fighting climate change, including installing solar panels and tracking energy use. (WABE)
• A Kentucky lawmaker says the idea that coal jobs can ever come back is “one of the most cruel deceptions” in politics. (CNBC)
• The Tennessee Valley Authority says Trump’s decision will have no immediate impact on the utility because it has been reducing carbon emissions from its plants for years.

Trump climate order unlikely to provide significant boost for coal country

CLIMATE: President Donald Trump will sign an executive order today undo climate change initiatives in an effort to boost domestic energy production of fossil fuels. (Associated Press)

COAL:
• Trump’s executive order is unlikely to provide any significant rescue for West Virginia’s coal industry and others because it won’t immediately boost demand for coal. (Charleston Gazette-Mail, Bloomberg)
• Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell announced his support on Monday to accelerate the release of mine reclamation funds. (Lexington Herald-Leader)
• A West Virginia senator pushing to extend retired coal miners’ benefits will meet with miners on Friday. (Associated Press)
• Historic photos show the rise and decline of a Kentucky coal town.

Westinghouse expected to file for bankruptcy as early as tomorrow

NUCLEAR: Despite setbacks in other states, a Virginia utility is moving forward with plans for a new nuclear reactor. (Southeast Energy News)

ALSO:
• Nuclear contractor Westinghouse is expected to file for bankruptcy as early as tomorrow. (Reuters)
• A consumer advocacy group warns that Georgia Power customers could end up taking on more of the costs to build Vogtle plant. (WABE)
• Entergy continues to face equipment and safety challenges at its Arkansas Nuclear One plant nearly four years after one worker was killed and eight others were injured. (Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette)

TRANSMISSION: A Tennessee county commissioner says Sen. Lamar Alexander is putting “his own agenda ahead of what’s best for West Tennessee” in his opposition to a clean energy transmission line.