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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
Xcel Energy taking heat for slow rollout of solar garden program in Minnesota

Xcel Energy taking heat for slow rollout of solar garden program in Minnesota

Due to delays, shared projects are unlikely to be built this year, energy companies say
Environmental, tribal groups want Sandpiper route reconsidered

Environmental, tribal groups want Sandpiper route reconsidered

Minnesota PUC is not obligated to revisit its June decision.
Minn., N. Dakota are pushed to work together on clean energy

Minn., N. Dakota are pushed to work together on clean energy

Clean Power Plan has incentives for states to work jointly on carbon emissions.
Ending years of litigation, Gevo and Butamax to work on creating markets for new biofuel

Ending years of litigation, Gevo and Butamax to work on creating markets for new biofuel

Gevo’s isobutanol will be for jets; Butamax’s for vehicles.

Diesel prices, now less than gas at the pump, likely to rise into the fall harvest

Analysts expect prices to jump as farmers fill up to harvest fields.
Uncertain outlook as North Dakota tops 10,000 shale oil wells

Uncertain outlook as North Dakota tops 10,000 shale oil wells

North Dakota surpassed a milestone in June — its 10,000th shale oil well — amid a still-gloomy outlook for its petroleum industry thanks to continued low crude oil prices.
Midwest states question if power grid operator watches for consumers

Midwest states question if power grid operator watches for consumers

Con­sum­er pro­tec­tion is get­ting short-cir­cuit­ed on the Midwest e­lec­tric grid, ac­cord­ing to reg­u­la­to­ry watch­dogs in Minnesota and oth­er states.
Wind turbine owner forces statewide review of utilities' tacked-on fees

Wind turbine owner forces statewide review of utilities' tacked-on fees

Wind turbine owner’s monthly $5 charge sparked the review.
Lower gasoline prices still pinching the ethanol industry

Lower gasoline prices still pinching the ethanol industry

Profits are down even though price of corn for fuel remains low.

CenterPoint seeks natural gas rate hike in Minnesota

The firm wants an annual 6 percent bump for investments.
EPA rule on coal power plants is push toward clean energy and efficiency

EPA rule on coal power plants is push toward clean energy and efficiency

New EPA rules dictate less coal burning and more clean energy, efficiency

Co-ops in southern Minnesota complete deal to acquire investor-owned utility

Electric cooperatives in southern Minnesota closed a $122 million deal Friday to acquire the assets of the investor-owned utility serving Albert Lea and other small…
Crude oil pipeline serving Twin Cities refineries to get $125M upgrade

Crude oil pipeline serving Twin Cities refineries to get $125M upgrade

The construction, to begin next year, doesn’t require laying new pipe, and won’t significantly increase the overall flow of crude oil from a terminal in Clearbrook, Minn.
CEO of Xcel Energy says the utility supports large-scale solar projects

CEO of Xcel Energy says the utility supports large-scale solar projects

CEO Fowke said it’s more cost-effective than smaller projects.
United Taconite will lay off 420 employees for up to six months

United Taconite will lay off 420 employees for up to six months

Oversupply and low prices in the steel market are blamed for the 6-month furloughs.
Feds allege Xcel contractors falsified weld tests at Monticello nuclear plant

Feds allege Xcel contractors falsified weld tests at Monticello nuclear plant

Contractors in Monticello, the report says, didn’t follow testing protocol on casks holding nuclear waste.
Electric vehicles for power companies

Electric vehicles for power companies

The Zeus truck now exists in a set of plans. The goal is to build a prototype and sell to utilities.
Minnesota electric co-op opens ethanol plant in North Dakota

Minnesota electric co-op opens ethanol plant in North Dakota

The nation’s first new corn ethanol plant in more than five years — in Spiritwood, N.D. — has gone into commercial operation, its owner said.
Minnesota utility co-op devises new business model for solar energy projects

Minnesota utility co-op devises new business model for solar energy projects

A Minnesota electric cooperative has devised a unique business model for solar power: install the panels on city-owned properties and, in return, the city government…
Regulators plan community meetings about Minn. pipeline replacement

Regulators plan community meetings about Minn. pipeline replacement

Northern Minnesota cities along the route will get a say before a state review.
Giant Paynesville, Minn., solar project stuck at starting gate

Giant Paynesville, Minn., solar project stuck at starting gate

While it waits for Xcel Energy to complete a review, the state’s sixth-largest solar project isn't generating a single watt of solar energy.

Xcel Energy's large coal-fired generators at Becker face pressure for retirement

Clean-energy advocates oppose the coal-burning units in Becker.
Monticello nuclear power plant begins sustained operation at higher power level

Monticello nuclear power plant begins sustained operation at higher power level

The long rampup after a major upgrade is done and the Monticello nuclear plant is running full.
N.D. oil output up slightly even as fewer rigs are active in the Bakken

N.D. oil output up slightly even as fewer rigs are active in the Bakken

Fewer rigs are drilling for oil, but they are more efficient, helping to keep up production amid low crude prices.

Minnesota Xcel Energy customers will see bump in electric bills by Nov.

Bills for residential customers will go up a little more than 1 percent by November.
Minnesota Power to idle coal-burning power plant in Schroeder, Minn., in 2016

Minnesota Power to idle coal-burning power plant in Schroeder, Minn., in 2016

The electric utility serving the Iron Range says it can purchase power for less money off the power grid as it shifts away from heavy reliance on coal.
Robert Behrens restored historic homes in St. Paul

Robert Behrens restored historic homes in St. Paul

Robert Behrens, a preservationist and craftsman who restored historic homes in Crocus Hill and other St. Paul neighborhoods, died Thursday after battling prostate cancer for…

Minnesota utility regulators put limits on solar gardens

The PUC ruling will stifle some firms’ plans for bigger projects.

Utility regulators set to decide scope of Minnesota community solar garden program

Xcel Energy has objected to solar energy companies’ plans for multiple side-by-side projects.
St. Paul Park Refinery increasingly focuses on Bakken oil

St. Paul Park Refinery increasingly focuses on Bakken oil

Minnesota’s oldest oil refinery sees a bigger future with Bakken crude. The refinery on the banks of the Mississippi River in St. Paul Park plans…

Glenville, Minn., ethanol plant remains shut down after blast

The explosion in Glenville injured two workers.
N.D. oil rig count drops to lowest level in 5 years

N.D. oil rig count drops to lowest level in 5 years

As oil prices remain weak, number of rigs in the state is lowest since 2009

Renewable energy giant SolarCity to make first community solar investment in Minnesota

Apartment residents are focus of planned solar garden.
Body of climber, Maple Grove High School graduate, recovered from Mt. Rainier

Body of climber, Maple Grove High School graduate, recovered from Mt. Rainier

Searchers had been looking for Kyle Bufis, formerly of Maple Grove, who got caught in a storm on Thursday.

Minnesota iron mines offered break on a major expense: electricity

Minnesota’s mining companies could see relief in their electricity bills.

Cologne, Minn., signs deal to go all-solar for its municipal electricity

Other cities are looking at cost-saving deals with solar developers to offset electricity for government buildings and operations.
Enbridge pipeline approved in Minnesota; route is unsettled

Enbridge pipeline approved in Minnesota; route is unsettled

The 5-0 vote by the state Public Utilities Commission grants pipeline developer Enbridge Energy a certificate of need to construct the $2.6 billion Sandpiper pipeline from the Bakken to Superior, Wis.
Xcel to pay $36M to settle dispute over nuclear plant upgrade

Xcel to pay $36M to settle dispute over nuclear plant upgrade

The contractor that made upgrades to the Prairie Island nuclear plant said it had been stiffed by Xcel Energy, but it got $10 million less that what it said it was due.
Enbridge argues for Minn. pipeline as protesters say ‘No’

Enbridge argues for Minn. pipeline as protesters say ‘No’

Enbridge told regulators Wednesday that its proposed pipeline across northern Minnesota can be operated safely.
Ethanol industry lashes out at EPA's proposed blending levels for biofuels

Ethanol industry lashes out at EPA's proposed blending levels for biofuels

But the federal agency pushes back, saying the industry’s rhetoric don’t match the reality of the fuel market.
Ethanol industry lashes out at EPA's proposed blending levels for biofuels

Ethanol industry lashes out at EPA's proposed blending levels for biofuels

But the federal agency pushes back, saying the industry’s rhetoric doesn’t match reality.
Minnesota-based cooperative CHS buys an Illinois ethanol plant

Minnesota-based cooperative CHS buys an Illinois ethanol plant

It is the second ethanol plant the Minnesota farmer-owned co-op has purchased in a year.
Farmer-owners of Minn. ethanol plant double down on investment

Farmer-owners of Minn. ethanol plant double down on investment

Farmers who own the Corn Plus ethanol plant in southern Minnesota refused to sell it — and are reinvesting so it can compete
Regulators OK largest solar energy project in Minnesota

Regulators OK largest solar energy project in Minnesota

Large arrays of solar panels that track the sun’s daily movement were approved at 21 sites across Minnesota to serve Xcel Energy electric customers.
Off-peak power rates for plug-in vehicle charging get regulators' OK

Off-peak power rates for plug-in vehicle charging get regulators' OK

The new rates, which take effect in about two months at Xcel Energy Inc. and two other utilities, could shave 40 percent or more off the cost.
Big industry, utilities win on energy legislation in Minnesota

Big industry, utilities win on energy legislation in Minnesota

But small-scale solar power generators face fees from municipal and cooperative utilities.
Xcel Energy gets permission from FAA to fly drones

Xcel Energy gets permission from FAA to fly drones

The utility will use them to inspect power lines and other energy structures, but only within the operator’s line of sight.
Xcel agrees to cut coal plant emissions to settle suit over haze in national parks

Xcel agrees to cut coal plant emissions to settle suit over haze in national parks

Settlement will end a lawsuit over haze affecting Voyageurs and Isle Royale national parks.

Regulators accept need for big northern Minnesota transmission line

The route of Minnesota Power's 220-mile transmission line from Canada to Grand Rapids is still to be decided.
Ethanol industry looks to drivers and exports for path out of a slump

Ethanol industry looks to drivers and exports for path out of a slump

After a weak start to 2015, industry sees strong exports, more fuel consumption.
N.D. oil train derailment, town evacuation restart Minnesota debate

N.D. oil train derailment, town evacuation restart Minnesota debate

No one was hurt in the spectacular derailment and blaze near the tiny town of Heimdal, but it comes as Minnesota officials debate spending for rail crossings.

Rapidly growing Allete Clean Energy invests in seventh wind farm

The latest acquisition, in Pennsylvania, comes less than a month after the company signed a deal to buy a wind farm in southwest Minnesota.
East Coast refineries get highest-ever share of crude from oil trains

East Coast refineries get highest-ever share of crude from oil trains

New federal figures for February show that 52 percent of the East Coast’s crude oil arrived by trains, the highest ever, and that most came from the Midwest.

Minnesota utilities flip switch on large segment of $2.1 billion CapX2020 transmission project

Transmission lines will help ease wind energy bottleneck.
Regulators toughen safety standards for rail cars carrying Bakken crude

Regulators toughen safety standards for rail cars carrying Bakken crude

Worried about increasing oil train traffic, the U.S. and Canada ordered cars to have thicker shells, more insulation and better valve structures.
Xcel Energy agrees to buy N.D. wind farm project

Xcel Energy agrees to buy N.D. wind farm project

The utility will complete the project being developed by Edina-based Geronimo Energy.

Interstate Power & Light sale to cooperatives in southern Minnesota wins approval

Twelve cooperative power companies will acquire the assets and 43,000 customers of the investor-owned utility.
Xcel Energy wants size limits on its Minnesota community solar gardens

Xcel Energy wants size limits on its Minnesota community solar gardens

The step, aimed at corporate projects, would cancel more than 80 percent of those proposed.

Enbridge Energy seeks OK for replacement crude oil pipeline across northern Minnesota

The $2.1 billion pipeline would replace 1960s-era one across 337 miles of northern Minnesota.

Minnesota regulators approve 1.9 percent rate increase for Dakota Electric customers

Dakota Electric, the state’s second-largest retail electric cooperative, won regulatory approval Thursday to raise electric rates by 1.9 percent overall for its 103,000 customers in…
Truckers sue to end biodiesel mandate

Truckers sue to end biodiesel mandate

Minnesota’s 10 percent blend has hurt trucking firms, carmakers and the oil industry, the lawsuit says.

Macalester College commits to solar for its electricity

The St. Paul college joins St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., in going carbon-free.
N.D. sees second straight monthly drop in oil output

N.D. sees second straight monthly drop in oil output

Low oil prices have reduced the pace of drilling for Bakken oil and gas, and more wells are being left uncompleted, awaiting better times.
Judge supports Sandpiper pipeline in northern Minnesota

Judge supports Sandpiper pipeline in northern Minnesota

A PUC ruling is still ahead, but the opinion is a blow to environmentalists who oppose the Sandpiper project.
Bird flu hits four more Minnesota farms, three new counties

Bird flu hits four more Minnesota farms, three new counties

Outbreak spreads to three more counties, with 13 farms affected in all
North Dakota rigs take a big hit from oil's steep fall

North Dakota rigs take a big hit from oil's steep fall

The number of oil-drilling rigs in North Dakota has fallen to the lowest level in six years, triggering an estimated 3,000-4,000 oil field job losses that could get worse, a top state official said Thursday.
Political divide emerges over Minnesota energy policy

Political divide emerges over Minnesota energy policy

House bill would let utilities decide which renewable energy sources are cheaper.
Frac sand industry feels effects of low oil prices, less drilling

Frac sand industry feels effects of low oil prices, less drilling

As drilling rigs go idle, ripple effect means Minnesota, Wisconsin mines expect shipments to drop significantly
Xcel says two-year rate hike in Minnesota will be 6.1 percent

Xcel says two-year rate hike in Minnesota will be 6.1 percent

The overall electric rate increase is well short of earlier projections; specific rates for residential and businesses customers won’t be known for weeks.
BNSF says it will slow speed of oil trains through Twin Cities

BNSF says it will slow speed of oil trains through Twin Cities

The new speed limit will be 35 miles per hour, down from 40 mph in the Twin Cities.
Regulators approve rate hike for Xcel electric customers

Regulators approve rate hike for Xcel electric customers

Regulators approved the increase, but Minnesota customers of the power company won’t know the full effect on their bills for several weeks.
From this weekend: Enbridge says oil slowdown won't affect Minnesota pipeline projects

From this weekend: Enbridge says oil slowdown won't affect Minnesota pipeline projects

CEO Al Monaco sees no reduction in planned investments, and says Sandpiper and other oil pipeline projects are still needed.
Big solar parks proposed for Minnesota not so popular with neighbors

Big solar parks proposed for Minnesota not so popular with neighbors

Some neighbors worry about property values while cities say solar parks could jeopardize growth plans.
Obituary: Maureen Flahaven was leader on many local, state issues

Obituary: Maureen Flahaven was leader on many local, state issues

Maureen Flahaven, a civic leader and activist who played important roles working for DFL candidates, promoting Minnesota and rebuilding St. Paul’s downtown sports arena, died…
Dayton proposes spending $330 million to upgrade rail safety

Dayton proposes spending $330 million to upgrade rail safety

The proposal, which relies on legislative approval of a new annual assessment on the four major railroads in Minnesota, would fund major rail improvements in Coon Rapids, Moorhead, Willmar, and Prairie Island.
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