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David Shaffer

Reporter | Energy and business
phone: 612-673-7090
David Shaffer is a veteran reporter and editor for the Star Tribune, with more than three decades of experience on daily newspapers.
Recent content from David Shaffer
Rebuilt trout streams benefit anglers and fish

Rebuilt trout streams benefit anglers and fish

Earth-ripping work has helped restore more than 60 miles of trout streams in the past five years in western Wisconsin and southeast Minnesota. The big machines strip away thick layers of bank sediment that destroy trout habitat.
To the Hills (that is, Black Hills) for fly fishing

To the Hills (that is, Black Hills) for fly fishing

Black Hills fishing revives after a brush with drought and invasive species.

Northern Oil top executive was investor in loan package under SEC investigation

Inquiry looks at stock movement that yielded millions in payouts.
Minnesota regulators decline to speed up oil pipeline review

Minnesota regulators decline to speed up oil pipeline review

Enbridge Energy said the state's process would delay the oil projects.
First Midwest cellulosic ethanol plant is producing tank-car loads of fuel

First Midwest cellulosic ethanol plant is producing tank-car loads of fuel

Poet Inc. is shipping fuel from Iowa facility, which could hit full output by year's end.
Xcel faces a big investment to keep its nuclear units going

Xcel faces a big investment to keep its nuclear units going

The high cost of upgrading 40-year-old nuclear reactors is confronting the utility again, with $487 million in needed upgrades at its Prairie Island facility by 2020.
Five energy firms score contracts for Twin Cities government solar garden projects

Five energy firms score contracts for Twin Cities government solar garden projects

Public agencies in Minnesota joined to seek out competitive project bids.

Major northern Minnesota power line wins approval from state regulators

The Great Northern Transmission project will be the state's second 500-kilovolt line when it is completed.
U.S. crude by rail industry slows down after six years of rapid growth

U.S. crude by rail industry slows down after six years of rapid growth

Once a booming business, the loading of crude oil at more than a dozen North Dakota rail terminals now faces a financial squeeze.
Minneapolis-based start-up applies advanced technologies to power-demand peaks

Minneapolis-based start-up applies advanced technologies to power-demand peaks

Power Over Time Inc. is applying two-way communication, cloud computing and smart controls to even out peaks, valleys on electric-grid usage.
N.D. reports lower crude oil production, expects further declines

N.D. reports lower crude oil production, expects further declines

If the low crude prices persist, several drillers could be ripe for bankruptcy, state official said.
Minnesota vows to move ahead with clean power

Minnesota vows to move ahead with clean power

Despite a Supreme Court stay on EPA rules, Minnesota says it will develop plans to limit carbon and pursue energy initiatives
Ethanol profits fall sharply as low motor fuel prices cut into margins

Ethanol profits fall sharply as low motor fuel prices cut into margins

The downturn in the ethanol industry isn't as bad as four years ago. But ethanol is selling into a U.S. gasoline market where prices recently hit a seven-year low thanks to the worldwide crude oil glut.

Former Fagen Inc. CFO admitted to FBI that she embezzled funds

Kirsten Tjosaas, recently fired by Fagen Inc., is cooperating in the investigation, her attorney said.

Regulators reject lower electric rates for northern Minnesota mines, mills

Regulators reject Minnesota Power's offer of lower electric rates to iron mines and pulp mills, but plan may be revived.

Low-cost energy storage for power grid can be found in your basement, study says

The Brattle Group study says that the nation's 50 million residential electric water heaters can address bigger challenges such as storing intermittent renewable energy from wind farms and solar arrays.
Flint Hills Resources plans $750 million in capital investment at its Minnesota refinery

Flint Hills Resources plans $750 million in capital investment at its Minnesota refinery

The 3-year project in Rosemount targets efficiency, reduced emissions

One large solar project in Minnesota going ahead, another delayed

Great River Energy plans a solar project near Buffalo, Minn., but NextEra's giant project near Marshall, Minn., will get further study.

Enbridge says Minnesota regulators applied "unlawful" process to its Sandpiper pipeline review

The pipeline company claims that the procedures will unfairly delay project.
Xcel 'nearly certain' it can comply with federal Clean Power Plan in Minn.

Xcel 'nearly certain' it can comply with federal Clean Power Plan in Minn.

Other utilities aren't as hopeful, ask U.S. Supreme Court to intercede
Xcel Energy reports increase in fourth-quarter and annual profits

Xcel Energy reports increase in fourth-quarter and annual profits

The Minneapolis-based utility said it met or beat its annual earnings guidance for the 11th straight year.

Regulators approve Minnesota Power solar project at Camp Ripley

Commissioners concerned by cost of Minnesota Power's plan.
Wind power industry surges, and expects steady growth

Wind power industry surges, and expects steady growth

2015 was the third-biggest year for expansion in the United States

Largest Minnesota solar array wins approval from utility regulators

The $180 million power project is planned for leased farmland in Chisago County.
Mpls. start-up wants to install hydropower without need for dams

Mpls. start-up wants to install hydropower without need for dams

Minneapolis start-up Verterra Energy has patented a horizontal turbine to harvest hydropower without a dam.
N.D. oil sinks to $20 per barrel with more bankruptcies expected as drilling activity declines

N.D. oil sinks to $20 per barrel with more bankruptcies expected as drilling activity declines

More bankruptcies are expected as drilling declines due to low prices.

Center for Energy and Environment hires new president to succeed founder

The Center for Energy and Environment, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit that promotes clean energy and conservation, said Thursday that it has hired a new president to…
Otter Tail Power finishes major upgrade at coal plant in Big Stone, S.D.

Otter Tail Power finishes major upgrade at coal plant in Big Stone, S.D.

Despite $356M in upgrades, the coal-powered plant may not be allowed to run at full capacity.
TenKsolar raises $25 million from new investors including Goldman Sachs

TenKsolar raises $25 million from new investors including Goldman Sachs

Investment will help sales; new investors include Goldman Sachs & Co.
Largest coal supplier to Minnesota electric utilities files for bankruptcy protection

Largest coal supplier to Minnesota electric utilities files for bankruptcy protection

Arch says it will keep shipping; Minnesota utilities don't foresee problems
Connexus Energy sells out its first, and Minn.'s largest, community solar garden

Connexus Energy sells out its first, and Minn.'s largest, community solar garden

After slow start, Connexus offered monthly payment option and business jumped
Obituary: Clayton Rein helped shape the housing industry in Minnesota

Obituary: Clayton Rein helped shape the housing industry in Minnesota

Clayton Rein, a Twin Cities real estate developer and property manager who owned art galleries, pioneered the renting of artwork for corporate offices and founded…
Midwest consumer advocates win victory on electric grid transmission rates

Midwest consumer advocates win victory on electric grid transmission rates

Consumer advocates have won a battle over excessive profits by utilities with transmission lines that deliver electricity across the Midwest. In a ruling that calls…
Solar power boom in Chisago County creates winners and losers

Solar power boom in Chisago County creates winners and losers

Eight major projects are planned, but some lament the loss of green fields.

Consumer groups cool to utility rate hike to help Iron Range mines, pulp mills

Consumer advocates question Minnesota Power's plan to shift electric costs from big industry to residential customers.

Regulators authorize expansive environmental reviews for proposed Minnesota pipelines

Enbridge Energy fears delays to its plan for northern Minnesota.
SEC investigating unusual 2012 stock trading at oil train company

SEC investigating unusual 2012 stock trading at oil train company

The inquiry is focused on a loan to a Wayzata firm.
Regulators OK interim electric rate hike for Xcel but worry about nuclear costs

Regulators OK interim electric rate hike for Xcel but worry about nuclear costs

Nuclear power costs, other investments are factors in the 5.5 percent boost, which takes effect on Jan. 1.

Cross-border pipeline switch allowing more Canadian crude into Minnesota is legal, judge rules

Judge denied request to stop Enbridge from bringing in more Canadian oil.
North Dakota to see more declines in oil drilling as prices hit 7-year low

North Dakota to see more declines in oil drilling as prices hit 7-year low

With prices at seven-year low, production keeps declining, despite slight jump in October
Heavy bitumen crude oil from Canada poses an extra environmental risk, study finds

Heavy bitumen crude oil from Canada poses an extra environmental risk, study finds

Study findings come as regulators face key decisions on Minnesota pipelines
Long a leader in wind power, Xcel sees advantages in owning more wind farms

Long a leader in wind power, Xcel sees advantages in owning more wind farms

Utility is leader in wind power, and investments are paying off.
State's largest solar array now generating power at MSP Airport

State's largest solar array now generating power at MSP Airport

With no fanfare, the switch was flipped on the Minnesota's newest and largest solar power generator

EPA sets 2016 blending targets for ethanol and other biofuels

More biofuel will be required to be blended into the nation's fuel supply next year, but the ethanol industry isn't entirely happy about it.The U.S.…
Shutdown of Monticello nuclear plant causes fish kill

Shutdown of Monticello nuclear plant causes fish kill

The sudden drop in temperature in the discharged cooling water resulted in a fish kill in the Mississippi River.

Southwest Minnesota wind farm sold out of bankruptcy to bank and local investors

Small investors stand to lose their investment in the Minwind project.
Farmer-owned cooperative CHS Inc. profits fell 28 percent in 2015

Farmer-owned cooperative CHS Inc. profits fell 28 percent in 2015

Annual profit declines 28 percent for the nation's largest farmer-owned cooperative.
More N.D. oil trains entering Twin Cities via west suburbs

More N.D. oil trains entering Twin Cities via west suburbs

Temporary rerouting sends more past Target Field and through downtown Minneapolis.
Would you believe gas prices of $1.70 a gallon by Christmas?

Would you believe gas prices of $1.70 a gallon by Christmas?

Gasoline prices in Minnesota are slipping below $2 per gallon, and experts say they're headed even lower.
Garofalo shows off self-driving technology in new Tesla

Garofalo shows off self-driving technology in new Tesla

Taking guests for a spin, Pat Garofalo says new technology is wave of transportation's future.
Mortenson creates unit to build grid-scale electric storage projects

Mortenson creates unit to build grid-scale electric storage projects

One of the nation's leading builders of renewable energy projects and transmission lines sees a business opportunity in large battery storage.
Ethanol industry making profits despite lower price of fuel

Ethanol industry making profits despite lower price of fuel

Companies benefitted from increased demand, but tighter margins are expected to stay over the next year.
Solar garden options rolling out for Xcel Energy customers in Minnesota

Solar garden options rolling out for Xcel Energy customers in Minnesota

For most consumers, shared solar is new territory, with its own rewards and risks.
Iron Range mines may get electric rate relief; residential rates would rise

Iron Range mines may get electric rate relief; residential rates would rise

Minnesota Power is proposing lower electric rates for mines, mills; residential rates would rise 14.5%.

Xcel proposes green-only electricity as customer option

The program is a response to customers, especially corporations, that want to be powered by wind and solar.
Keystone XL would have helped N.D. move some of its oil

Keystone XL would have helped N.D. move some of its oil

The rejection of Keystone XL is a setback for North Dakota’s oil industry, even though falling oil prices and the drop in Bakken drilling and…
Xcel requests rate hike; bills would go up for customers

Xcel requests rate hike; bills would go up for customers

By 2018, a typical electric customer's annual electric charges would be $132 higher if state regulators approve the 9.8 percent increase sought by the company.
Xcel Energy earnings up for the third quarter

Xcel Energy earnings up for the third quarter

Recent rate hikes in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota are contributing to the utility's bottom line.
TenKsolar to replace failed equipment on solar power arrays

TenKsolar to replace failed equipment on solar power arrays

A software problem with solar arrays curtailed energy production during late summer.
State is set to make a big leap into solar

State is set to make a big leap into solar

The state Department of Administration is seeking bids for power from shared solar projects planned in Xcel Energy's Minnesota region.
Dayton writes BNSF to criticize oil train traffic near downtown Mpls.

Dayton writes BNSF to criticize oil train traffic near downtown Mpls.

The largest rail hauler of Bakken crude oil recently disclosed a shift in traffic that sends trains through western suburbs.

North Dakota and Minnesota face off over coal power in federal appeals court

The federal appeals court will see if a Minnesota law violates interstate commerce.
State Supreme Court asked to step into pipeline battle

State Supreme Court asked to step into pipeline battle

Enbridge Energy, state PUC seek review of ruling requiring environmental impact statement for Sandpiper crude oil project.

Xcel launches $68M upgrade at Prairie Island nuclear plant

The upgrades aim to extend the life of the 1970s-era power plant.
Slow, stinky start to Le Sueur, Minn., green-energy project

Slow, stinky start to Le Sueur, Minn., green-energy project

The federally subsidized plant is generating less electricity, more odor.
Xcel Energy wants to replace 100,000 Minnesota streetlights with LEDs

Xcel Energy wants to replace 100,000 Minnesota streetlights with LEDs

Utility's five-year project promises better lighting, savings for cities.
North Dakota oil output slips again as outlook for industry gets bleaker

North Dakota oil output slips again as outlook for industry gets bleaker

Production has declined in five of the past eight months as the industry tries "to weather the storm."

Stalled Xcel solar garden program in Minnesota may end up in court

Clean energy developers complain the rules are unclear, and Xcel Energy is to slow connecting solar projects to substations.
Obituary: Emery Bulinski, owner of Ely's Snowbank Lodge

Obituary: Emery Bulinski, owner of Ely's Snowbank Lodge

Emery Bulinski, an entrepreneur who moved to Ely, Minn., after World War II and owned the former Snowbank Lodge and at least a dozen other…
Xcel Energy plans more wind, solar power and less coal — and sooner — in Minnesota

Xcel Energy plans more wind, solar power and less coal — and sooner — in Minnesota

The utility looks to replace two of three coal burners at its Sherco plant with natural gas unit by 2026.

Environmental groups seek enhanced studies of planned crude oil pipelines across Minnesota

The Sandpiper pipeline remains on hold while Line 3 has similar environmental concerns.

First solar garden completed in Xcel's Minnesota region

About 1,300 community sites are waiting for approval in Xcel's Minnesota service area.
Gevo Inc. plans continues production of new biofuel at Luverne, Minn., plant

Gevo Inc. plans continues production of new biofuel at Luverne, Minn., plant

An investment of $5 million is planned at the isobutanol plant in Luverne, Minn.

Wayzata-based Dakota Plains Holdings' stock takes wide swings

The company, which loads oil trains, must submit a plan by Oct. 14 to stay in NYSE's small-cap exchange.
Anti-pipeline groups ask judge to halt increased Canadian oil flow into Minnesota

Anti-pipeline groups ask judge to halt increased Canadian oil flow into Minnesota

Opponents asked a judge to stop the increased flow from a Canadian line.
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