Staff Directory 89522247

Mike Hughlett

Reporter | Food industry
Phone: 612-673-7003
Location: Minneapolis
Other languages: None

Mike Hughlett covers energy and other topics for the Star Tribune, where he has worked since 2010. Before that he was a reporter at newspapers in Chicago, St. Paul, New Orleans and Duluth.

Hughlett has primarily covered economics, business and workplace issues for 32 years at five newspapers. He grew up in Brooklyn Center.
Recent content from Mike Hughlett

State AFSCME union leader John Westmoreland suspended pending investigation

The union did not specify the allegations against executive director John Westmoreland.
A utility worker assesses electrical power lines in south Minneapolis.

Minnesota utilities will study if the $2B CapX2020 grid improvements were enough

Growing role of renewable energy and transmission capacity are part of the focus.
A WPX oil rig in North Dakota, which posted record oil and gas production in June.

North Dakota posts record gas and oil production numbers

The country's second-largest oil producing state produced 1.42 million barrels of oil per day in June.
Xcel Energy’s proposed $650 million purchase of a gas-fired power plant in Mankato, shown in photo, has run into strong opposition from two state ag

Regulators rip Xcel's proposed $650 million deal for Mankato power plant

Xcel Energy's proposed $650 million purchase of a gas-fired power plant in Mankato has run into strong opposition from two state agencies concerned about its potential impact on ratepayers.

Advanced BioEnergy to sell plants, liquidate amid ethanol oversupply

Advanced BioEnergy of Bloomington liquidates, as the industry struggles.
Michael Reger after the 2011 Northern Oil & Gas shareholder meeting. Reger’s latest stint as a top executive at Northern Oil ended, though he will r

Michael Reger makes another exit at Northern Oil and Gas

Company says co-founder is leaving to pursue opportunities outside the Williston Basin.
Xcel Energy's second-quarter profit fell in part because of a mild start to summer. File photo of Xcel's coal plant near Becker.

Xcel profit fell 12% as mild weather kept ACs off at summer's start

Minnesota's biggest utility also contended with growing expenses.
Joe and Diane Fondie, above, talked with their granddaughter, illuminated by a single light fixture, at their part-time home in Skibo, Minn., a villag

The little Minnesota town that conventional electricity forgot

The town up on the Iron Range makes do without being connected to the power grid, using batteries, solar panels and other technology.

CenterPoint Energy's renewable natural gas plan gets voted down

State regulators said the proposal lacked solid accountability of sources and could cost too much.

Byron 'Barney' Olsen, attorney in railroad and transportation law, dies at 84

The St. Paul native was the Soo Line's general counsel for a time and wrote several books on vintage cars and trains.
Geronimo's Pegasus Solar Project in Brooten, Minn.

Edina's Geronimo Energy sold to British utility for $100M

British firm National Grid also buying a 51% stake in a joint venture for wind and solar generation.
North Dakota oil and natural gas production in May were relatively flat. (Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Minneapolis Star Tribune)

N.D. oil production growth might not meet projections for year

While oil production was up a bit, natural gas was down, state officials said.
Martin Pochtaruk, top, president and founder of Heliene Inc., gave a tour of his solar panel manufacturing facility in Mountain Iron, Minn., in May.

Canadian company sets up shop on Iron Range to make solar panels

Canadian company opens shop on Iron Range to take advantage of shifting U.S. trade policies.
Workers have completed the Wisconsin portion of Enbridge's proposed $2.6 billion pipeline.

Minn. regulators will not appeal Enbridge pipeline ruling

The PUC will try to fix their flawed environmental review of Enbridge's proposed $2.6 billion oil pipeline rather than go to the state Supreme Court.
Xcel Energy’s resource plan still calls for the calling of coal plants in Becker, Minn. However, it also will need more power plants in the 2030s.

Xcel says it will likely need more power capacity by 2030s

As utility shifts from coal to renewables, gas plants, other technology may fill gap.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Tuesday ordered a review of the state's handling of a key water quality permit for PolyMet Mining.

Swiss mining giant Glencore gains majority control of PolyMet

Critics worry about Swiss mining giant's ownership in the event of future pollution.
Eric Olson, right, gathered his tools as contractor Robert Radotich used a backhoe to dig areas so the soil stratification can be observed which will

PolyMet moves closer to getting Iron Range mine operational

Backed by global mining giant Glencore, PolyMet Mining Corporation's executives are courting bankers for nearly $1 billion to finance the project, hoping to start construction next year.
Workers have completed work in Wisconsin on an Enbridge pipeline. The proposed portion that would cross northern Minnesota is still undergoing the per

Enbridge's proposed $2.6 billion pipeline hits another snag

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says it needs to consider another environmental review.
Natural gas production hit a record in April in North Dakota.

Natural gas output in North Dakota sets another record

Monthly oil production was flat; prices have officials concerned.
Xcel CEO Ben Fowke

Xcel CEO: Climate change should be bipartisan issue

U conference keynote likened global warming to the ozone depletion problem of the 1970s.
CenturyLink's headquarters in Monroe, La.

CenturyLink faces more scrutiny from Minnesota regulators after 911 outage

State utility regulators have voted to increase reporting requirements.
Civil engineering firm Bolton & Menk is adding to its 420 employees. The firm recruits at colleges and asks staff to reach out to their alma maters.

Minnesota firms seek recruits earlier, adjust requirements due to tight labor market

Companies finding tight labor market means they need to up their game to get the people they need.
Bruce Kraemer, CEO of Crow Wing Power, defended his $1.9 million bonus before co-op members Saturday, June 9, in Brainerd. At far left is Bryan McColl

$1.9M bonus for Crow Wing CEO sparks backlash from members

Members were angered by a series of revelations, including that CEO Bruce Kraemer had gotten the bonus in connection with the 2006 sale of Hunt Technologies, a for-profit affiliate of the nonprofit electricity provider.
A 911 operator answered emergency calls at a Minneapolis dispatch center.

CenturyLink weaknesses faulted in Minnesota 911 outage

After a major outage in August that led to almost 700 dropped 911 calls in Minnesota, regulators have found weaknesses in CenturyLink’s administration of the…
File photo of opponents and supporters of Enbridge Line 3 lined up outside a Public Utilities Commission meeting last year when the agency discussed t

Environmental impact statement for Enbridge oil pipeline ruled inadequate

Line 3 replacement may be delayed further due to "inadequate" environmental study.
In this Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015 file photo, Darshan Brahmbhatt, plugs a charger into his electric vehicle at the Sacramento Municipal Utility Distric

Energy measures go nowhere in Minnesota legislative session

Legislators found no common ground on proposals ranging from carbon free electricity to electric vehicle subsidies.
“The grid can’t be 100% renewable,” Xcel CEO Ben Fowke told state public utility regulators Wednesday.

CEO: Xcel will likely need gas or nuclear power to reach carbon-free goals

"Baseload" plants will likely still be needed as the utility gets more power from renewable sources.
Xcel Energy employees examine a 38-foot-deep pool that holds spent fuel rods at its Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant. The utility said Monday it wi

Xcel to extend nuclear plant, close 2 coal plants, add solar

Within 11 years, Xcel says it can end coal generation in Minnesota, but it also plans to extend the life of its Monticello nuclear plant by another decade to 2040.
Minnesota attorney general's office making inquiry into Crow Wing Power

Minnesota attorney general's office making inquiry into Crow Wing Power

At issue is the sale of an affiliated tech firm more than a decade ago.
The Bitter Root project near Canby could add 44 turbines and 150 megawatts to the state’s booming wind market.

New developer will take on Minnesota wind-farm project after hiring flap

PUC held up the project after objections to developer's use of nonunion workers.
While most of the natural gas is captured at an oil well, some of it is flared off. North Dakota has not met its goals on how much of the gas is flare

N.D. posts strong month for oil production, hits record for natural gas

The state still has not met goals to reduce flaring of natural gas.
This undated photo shows the inside of a Google data center in Hamina, Finland.

Google's $600 million data center project in Becker clears big hurdle

State regulators on Tuesday approved Google's electricity contracts with Xcel Energy, which the tech giant said was 'critical' to the project.
Bill Connell

World War II veteran, POW William Connell dies at 95

William “Bill” Connell’s first bombing mission in 1944 would also be his last. Shot down over an island in the Pacific Ocean, he would endure…
The PolyMet mine site in Hoyt Lakes, Minn.

Minnesota's PolyMet Mining move could result in Glencore majority ownership

A $265 million stock offering could result in Glencore becoming majority owner.
The Minnesota House is considering elecrric vehicle rebates and money toward charging station pilot projects. Pictured is an EV charging station at th

Minnesota legislators propose changes to solar garden program, EV rebates

Senate and House proposals far apart on solar, EV funding, Xcel's responsibilities.
CenterPoint Energy messed up execution of $47 million worth of refunds to customers.

CenterPoint bungles $47M worth of refunds to customers

Some customers received bounced checks or late payment fees as CenterPoint tried to fix its mistake.
The Husky Energy oil refinery in Superior, Wis., suffered major damage during a fire and explosions on April 26, 2018.

Husky refinery explosion in Wis. prompts recommendation to review use of hydrogen fluoride

An investigatory panel urges the EPA to revisit its guidelines regarding the chemical, which can be deadly.
3M headquarters in Maplewood.

3M posts grim first quarter, will cut 2,000 jobs worldwide

Sales fell in three of its four business units, and profitability was hurt across the board.
Undisclosed $70,000 payments to Crow Wing Power directors come under scrutiny

Undisclosed $70,000 payments to Crow Wing Power directors come under scrutiny

The payments, made in 2006 in connection with the sale of an affiliated company, have been brought up recently at a board meeting and in letters to Brainerd area newspapers.
Steam rises from an Xcel Energy power plant in St. Paul.

Technology, cost could hamper efforts for carbon-free grid in Minnesota

Gov. Tim Walz wants Minnesota's electric power to be completely green energy by 2050. How to reach that goal remains a puzzle.
Xcel customers next month will start seeing refunds related to the utility's savings through federal tax reform.

Xcel Energy's tax cut will be passed on to customers starting next month

State utility regulators approved the Minneapolis-based utility's plan to distribute the money.

Cold weather took toll on North Dakota oil production in February

Officials said they believe the decline is weather related and should be temporary.
A large fireball erupted during a series of fires and explosions at the Husky refinery in Superior, Wis., in 2018.

Husky Energy to stick with hydrogen fluoride at rebuilt Superior plant

Husky to invest $400 million to rebuild plant but won't ditch the highly toxic chemical dispute residents' opposition.
Enbridge Energy's facility at the Clearbrook oil pipeline transfer station in Clearbrook, Minn.

Stakes high as Enbridge, Xcel and others challenge property tax bills

Once rare, tax bill challenges are mounting and the potential cost to local governments is rising.
The Minnesota Supreme Court let stand a lower court's ruling that Kim Lund, the oldest of four siblings who own Lunds & Byerlys, is entitled to $45 mi

Lund sibling can cash out of family grocery business, high court says

The Minnesota Supreme Court's decision lets stand a lower-court ruling that Kim Lund is entitled to $45 million for her stake in the Lunds & Byerlys supermarket chain.
A “No Trespassing” sign is visible in 2018 at a Enbridge Energy pipeline drilling pad along a rail line that traces the Minnesota-Wisconsin border

Minn. utility regulators give final stamp of approval to $2.6B Enbridge pipeline project

Challenges are expected to the ruling, and the project also needs several federal and state permits before it can proceed.
The Corn Plus ethanol plant on May 22, 2015 in Winnebago, Minn.

U.S. ethanol market sees first sales decline in decades

Lower U.S. demand, plunge in exports made for rough 2018.
Natural gas production was at an all-time high in January in North Dakota.

North Dakota oil production flat in January

Oil prices are on the upswing after tanking in the fourth quarter.
The cost of adding wind energy in Minnesota continues to go down, an industry report found. Shown is a wind farm near Alden, Minn. (ANTHONY SOUFFLE/ a

Cost of adding new wind, solar energy continues to fall in Minn., report says

Minnesota has "some of the best wind resources in the U.S.," new report says.
The Federal Communications Commission building in Washington, D.C.

Frontier Communications got $100M in broadband grants as customer complaints grew

Frontier disputes state inquiry that found it failed customers, may have misused grants.
Furnaces worked hard to keep up with the record breaking cold on Jan. 30. Xcel officials said its natural gas modeling for high-heat demand days prove

Xcel exploring how to fix issues that caused outages during polar vortex

Xcel executive tells state utility regulators that its natural gas delivery model was not adequate for the load during the days that temperatures dipped to 25 below and worse.
Bert McKasy

Bert McKasy, former legislator and longtime public servant, dies at 77

He also had a long business career, but he's best known for his role in government.
Smoke rises from the chimneys of homes in St. Paul's West 7th neighborhood on Jan. 30, as furnaces tried to keep up with the record-breaking cold last

About 25 percent of region's energy fleet was unavailable during polar vortex

Temperatures below negative 20 affected electricity sources from wind, gas and coal, report says.
The siblings owners of Lunds Inc., owner of Lunds & Byerlys, continue their legal dispute.

Kim Lund shoots back at family company in filing with Minn. Supreme Court

Kim Lund says legal arguments in the supermarket company's attempt to overturn a $45 million award to her have all been answered by lower courts.
Laborers work on the Wisconsin section of the new Enbridge pipeline in 2017.

Enbridge says $2.6 billion Minnesota pipeline will be online by 2020

Firm said construction must start in June to meet the tight timeline.
An oil rig digs three wells in 2017 in North Dakota.

North Dakota records strongest year ever for oil output

No. 2 oil-producing state reached record highs during December.
Lunds Inc., owner of Lunds & Byerlys, has petitioned the Minnesota Supreme Court to overturn an award to Kim Lund.

Lunds wants Minnesota Supreme Court to hear family dispute case

It wants a $45 million award to Kim Lund after a family fight to be overturned.
Smoke rises from the chimneys of homes in St. Paul's West 7th neighborhood on Jan. 30, as furnaces tried to keep up with the record breaking cold.

Xcel also had natural gas problems in Colorado

Nine days after cold weather caused problems in Minnesota, Xcel instituted short-term electricity brownouts to counteract issue in the Rocky Mountains.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz

Walz says state will continue court appeal of Enbridge pipeline approved by PUC

Governor's decision that threatens Enbridge's $2.6 billion project draws fire and cheers.
A Canadian Pacific train transporting oil leaves Hardisty, Alberta, Canada, on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013.

Safety officials concerned by sharp increase in oil train traffic from Canada

Oil imports by rail from Canada have hit a historic high, meaning more oil trains are rolling across Minnesota and raising the alert level of local emergency managers.
“This sale reflects a repositioning of capital and focus for Allete,” said Alan Hodnik, president and CEO.

Duluth-based Allete sells water business for $270 million

Japanese firm acquired U.S. Water Services, with 110 workers in St. Michael.
The Enbridge Energy pipeline transfer station in Clearbrook, Minn, is part of a pipeline corridor that runs through Itasca County, where four proteste

Protesters in custody after tampering with Enbridge pipelines in Itasca County

"Valve Turners" group notified the oil company, then filmed their protest.
Xcel Energy's Prairie Island nuclear power plant at Red Wing.

Xcel's profit holds steady, with sales rising faster in smaller markets

It's the 14th consecutive year that the state's largest utility met or exceeded guidance.
Katy Nordhagen walked carrying her 3-year-old dog Peppers after taking him out for a bathroom break Wednesday in Northeast Minneapolis.

Utility asks customers to turn down thermostats in deep freeze

All Xcel Energy natural gas customers are urged to lower thermostats to 63 because of "significant strain" on the utility's natural gas system. Minneapolis, St. Paul and Anoka-Hennepin schools will be closed Thursday.
Christina Manning, a professor at Macalaster College, speaks against Enbridge Energy's plan to replace its aging Line 3 crude oil pipeline across Minn

Enbridge's timeline to build new $2.6 billion pipeline still in limbo

Final regulatory OK, plus state and federal permits, are pending
Xcel customers will still receive refunds in connection with the federal tax cut, but not until at least spring.

Refunds associated with Xcel's federal tax cut won't be issued until spring

Plan needs regulatory approval before customers get payment.
The amount of flaring, which is burning off of natural gas there is not storage for, increased in November in North Dakota.

North Dakota seeing seasonal dip in oil production

State says producers still "cautiously optimistic" despite lower oil prices.
This undated photo provided by Google shows a Google data center in Hamina, Finland.

Google looks at building $600 million data center in Becker

The development would be powered by two dedicated wind farms, according to a regulatory filing by Xcel.
Workers in 2017 construct the 14-mile stretch of Enbridge’s new Line 3 that is in and near Superior, Wis.

Walz orders review of Commerce Department's decision to fight Enbridge pipeline project

The department had appealed state regulators' decision to approve the $2.6 billion project across northern Minnesota.
Xcel wants to expand a program that allows customers to connect their usage to wind and solar sources. (Megan Farmer/Omaha World-Herald via AP)

Xcel wants to expand green energy 'Renewable Connect' program

The program allows customers' energy consumption to be earmarked as renewable energy.
A Minnesota Department of Commerce report says Frontier Communications may have violated at least 35 state laws and regulations, failing its customers

Frontier Communications may have violated at least 35 laws, Minnesota says

The report released Friday points to shoddy service, lax record keeping and inadequate capital investments.
Regular unleaded gas has broken the $2 a gallon barrier, selling for $1.99 at 36 Lyn Refuel Station at 36th Street and Lyndale Avenue S. on Thursday i

Minnesota gas prices at lowest point in two years

With a crash in global oil prices, the average price Thursday for a gallon of gasoline was $2.10 in Minnesota and $2.25 nationwide.
The sun shines down in 2015 on solar panels that are part of the Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association's community gardens in Rockford, Min

Complicated economics of community solar gardens subject of debate

Xcel voices concerns about expense, but advocates cite avoided outlays.
Edina-based Geronimo Energy is developing a utility-scale project in the southwest part of the state and has plans for another in central Minnesota.

State set for second year of strong solar energy growth

While solar energy still makes up only about 1 percent of Minnesota's power generation, it has grown from 1 megawatt of production capacity in 2008 to a projected 882 megawatts by the end of 2018.

Wayzata man sentenced to 2 years in prison in Dakota Plains fraud case

Douglas Hoskins was convicted of charges related to stock price manipulation.
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