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
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.
Workers in 2017 lay Enbridge's Line 3 replacement in Wisconsin.

Environmental groups and Ojibwe bands file appeals on Enbridge pipeline approval

The lawsuits challenging state regulators' decision say it is not needed.
Workers in 2017 lay Enbridge's Line 3 replacement in Wisconsin.

Minnesota regulators affirm decision on route for new $2.6 billion Enbridge pipeline

Opponents are expected to appeal regulators' approval of the $2.6 billion project.

William Posten, pioneering black Minnesota judge, dies at 87

In his 23 years on the Hennepin County bench, he overaw some controversial and chaotic cases.
Ryan Gilbertson

Wayzata oil firm founder sentenced to 12 years in stock manipulation case

Ryan Gilbertson was charged with several federal fraud offenses.
Cooperative Energy Futures’ first two solar gardens came online this year; one was the community solar garden atop Shiloh Temple in north Minneapoli

Solar energy co-op sells subscribers energy — and a piece of the business

Cooperative Energy Futures develops arrays and then seeks subscribers who also essentially become shareholders.

Regulators table Canby area wind farm over labor concerns

Union said developer of Bitter Root project relies on out-of-state labor.
Utilities will need to put incentives in place to convince consumers to upgrade to higher efficiency furnaces.

Study: Utilities should be able to meet Minnesota state efficiency standards

Meeting the goals might be challenging but are doable, the state-funded study said.
Former Twin Cities gold coin dealer indicted for fraud charges.

Prosecutors say former Twin Cities gold coin dealer defrauded customers of $1.1 million

Wire and mail fraud are among the federal charges filed against Jamie Lee Smith.
With the DFL gaining control of the Minnesota House and retaining the governorship, many expect to hear debate about the state’s energy in the upcom

DFL election wins could mean pressure on state's renewable-energy goals

Minnesota has met many set 11 years ago, but other states have grown more aggressive.
Brandon Boat, left, and Tane Danger, the duo behind The Theater of Public Policy.

Anti-pipeline protesters cut short public policy theater performance

Theater of Public Policy hosted two public utilities commissioners but had to cancel event because of hecklers.

Lakeville man sentenced to more than 7 years in prison for precious-metals scam

David Thomas Rougier used $835,000 in clients' money for personal expenses.
Paige Carlson, far left, and Andy Pearson, of MN350, a climate change environmental group, disrupted the ongoing discussions before leaving voluntaril

Minn. regulators vote to move Enbridge pipeline project ahead

State utility regulators Monday declined to reconsider their approval of Enbridge's controversial new oil pipeline across northern Minnesota, setting the stage for a court appeal by pipeline opponents.
Oil and natural gas production were produced at record levels in North Dakota in September.

North Dakota oil production hits another high, but slowdown predicted

Tight labor market, low oil prices and winter weather could slow growth, officials said.

Study says Minnesota can economically reach renewable energy goals by 2050

Improving economics should make renewable energy less costly, it says.
Oil refinery at night in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. Shortage of pipeline capacity is causing Canadian oil producers to discount their crude by

Bargain pricing of Canadian crude oil is not helping you at the pump

Low Canadian prices help 2 local refineries, but drivers aren't seeing much benefit.

Seller of wind turbines charged in $1 million fraud scheme

Entrepreneur misspent $1 million in funds, didn't install turbines, feds say.

Xcel has agreed to pay $650 million for Mankato Energy Center

The deal, subject to regulatory approval, is with Southern Power.
Cooling towers at the Sherburne County Generating Station emit plumes of steam. Minnesota Power is close to retiring 700 megawatts of coal generation

Minnesota Power's stake in Superior, Wis., gas-fired plant approved

The vote was 3-2, with critics including ratepayers, clean energy groups and a state administrative law judge questioning whether the $700 million gas-fired power plant is needed.

Xcel earnings fell slightly amid higher costs

The company's shares fell in early trading.
Republican Jeff Johnson, left, and DFLer Tim Walz faced off earlier this month in a “Greater Minnesota Debate” in Willmar, Minn.

Jeff Johnson, Tim Walz both back northern Minn. pipeline project

Both major-party gubernatorial hopefuls say they support Enbridge, but politics could prove dicey.
A load of sand was transported from the pile at the rear to the Jordan Sands processing plant near Mankato.

Oil industry changes move buyers from Midwest frac sand

As oil production has soared, the U.S. frac sand mining industry has boomed over the past 18 months. But cutbacks in operations in Minnesota and Wisconsin may be part of a fundamental shift in U.S. frac sand production away from the Midwest.
In an Aug. 21, 2017 photo, workers build the Wisconsin portion of Enbridge's Line 3 replacement project.

Enbridge outlines $1.4 billion worst-case scenario spill on proposed pipeline

The analysis was required by state regulators for the $2.6 billion project to proceed.
FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015 file photo, Darshan Brahmbhatt, plugs a charger into his electric vehicle at the Sacramento Municipal Utility

Xcel proposal would support 70 new public charging stations for electric vehicles

$25 million effort would support charging stations for public and agency use.

Incentive approved for residential customers who choose solar gardens for energy

State regulators allowed the incentive because of a change in formula for an existing solar credit.

Amazon now hiring for new sorting facility in Brooklyn Park

The center, the company's fourth delivery-related operation in the Twin Cities, will employ 450 part-time workers later this fall.

Charges dismissed against climate change protesters who were on Enbridge property

Clearwater County judge ruled prosecutors did not have enough evidence.
The higher-ethanol fuel blend called E15 has hit the Twin Cities through an unusual marriage between the state corn growers and independent gas statio

Trump orders start of process to allow E-15 fuel sales year-round

Rule change welcomed by farmers would allow E-15 fuel blend to be sold year-round.
The oil refinery fire in Superior, Wis., threw thick, black smoke into the sky after an explosion and fire in April.

OSHA: Explosion, fire at Superior refinery could have been prevented

OSHA fines plant for 13 safety violations after April explosion and fires that led to a citywide evacuation.
Thomas Furst, died Sept. 18 at age 70.

Thomas Furst, who found peace in return trip to Vietnam battlefield, dies at 70

The 2012 trip "softened" Furst's anger about being exposed to Agent Orange, his wife said.

Frontier Communications service complaints aired at Lakeville hearing

The public hearings are part of a state investigation into service at the phone and internet service company.
Enbridge has the supplies ready to go if it gets all the OKs necessary to build a new pipeline across northern Minnesota.

Minn. Commerce Department asks utility regulators to vacate Enbridge's approval for Line 3

The state agency joined a handful of other groups in filing challenges to the June Line 3 decision.
Dorenne Hansen installed a No Windmills sign in her front yard to voice her opposition to the proposed project.

Minn. utility regulators approve Freeborn County wind farm opposed by neighbors

Regulators were swayed by special conditions to meet noise levels proposed by the project's developer.

N.D. oil, natural gas production hit another monthly record

Capacity and workforce constraints could restrain further growth for state.
Concerns about large turbine farms like this one near Alden, Minn., have led to a contested case for the Freeborn Wind project.

Wind industry says Minn. pollution-control stance will stifle its growth

Minn. pollution-control regulators say background noise should be considered.
The Minneapolis Public Utilities commissioners, meeting in June. The PUC on Tuesday postponed a meeting disrupted by protesters as the panel was to co

State regulators postpone Enbridge oil pipeline meetings after protests erupt

PUC was set to vote on whether Enbridge had met conditions imposed in June.
EnVerde’s Chief Executive Dave Goebel, left, and University of Minnesota Prof. Paul Dauenhauer talked about their startup recently at the lab at the

Startup using University of Minnesota research, enVerde wants to make energy from garbage

EnVerde founders hope to land funds necessary to build startup success story that will turn organic matter into synthetic fuel.

Crow Wing Power's $20-million-plus investment in manganese mine raises questions

So far, its investments have not resulted in a working mine.
Enbridge has the supplies ready to go if it gets all the OKs necessary to build a new pipeline across northern Minnesota.

Fond du Lac agrees to let Enbridge's new pipeline cross its reservation

Deal with the Fond du Lac Band extends pipelines' presence on the northern Minn. reservation.
A Nissan Leaf electric car is charged at the City of Palo Alto EV charging station in the public garage in Palo Alto, Calif., on November 5, 2015.

Sign-up for electric vehicle pilot program is this week

Xcel's new program aims at better charging system.
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