Staff Directory 89522247

Mike Hughlett

Reporter | Energy
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
CenterPoint has said it needs the money primarily to address the rising costs of such infrastructure projects as upgrading and replacing pipelines.

CenterPoint Energy customers will see 5.8% interim rate hike on Jan. 1

Regulators are expected to take about a year to weigh the utility's full increase request.
Enbridge this week signed labor contracts to complete the $2.6 billion Minnesota portion of its new pipeline. Shown is the Wisconsin portion being bui

Enbridge takes two steps forward on controversial Line 3 oil pipeline project

The update to a key pipeline across Minnesota will employ 4,000 people at its peak.
Flint Hills in Rosemount, one of the Midwest's largest oil refineries, is finishing up on several major construction projects totaling over $400 milli

At Flint Hills refinery, the state's biggest construction job since U.S. Bank Stadium is done

The refinery that supplies half of the motor fuel in Minnesota has gotten a $400 million upgrade.
Weather hampered North Dakota oil production in September, but officials said it should be higher in September.

Weather affects North Dakota oil production in September

Production in October looks better than in September, and it may set a record, an official said.
Prairie Island Nuclear Power Plant in Welch, Minn., is run by Xcel, which has invested $2 billion in its Minnesota nuclear plants. The utility, Minnes

Minnesota's days of cheaper electricity seem numbered

Utility rate increases are poised to push Minnesota past the national average.
The state tax court raised its valuation of Enbridge's pipeline corridor in Minnesota, which means that counties owing the company refunds on tax paym

State tax court says 13 counties must still refund millions to Enbridge

Energy-transportation firm is still owed millions by Minn. counties.
CenterPoint says an "incomplete installation of a regulator station and an associated pipeline" was the cause of an interruption of gas service in Sha

Contractor's mistake led to gas outage in Shakopee, utility says

The problem happened at a regulator station built last summer, CenterPoint said.
About 600 CenterPoint natural gas customers in the Shakopee area lost service Monday night.

A second natural gas outage in Twin Cities leaves customers in the cold

Service was restored gradually, and by 8:30 p.m. Tuesday all but 17 customers were back online, a CenterPoint spokesman said.
Xcel Energy’s rates would rise 15.2 % over three years as the electric utility seeks to pay for a host of a projects.

Xcel Energy seeks 3-year rate increase totaling 15.2 percent

The utility's proposal, which will be scrutinized by regulators, would cost its electricity customers an average of about $110 more per year by 2020.
This Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019 photo provided by the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality shows affected land from a Keystone oil pipeline

Oil spill in North Dakota is Keystone pipeline's 2nd in 2 years

An oil spill on the Key­stone pipe­line in north­east­ern North Da­ko­ta this week is the se­cond sig­nifi­cant leak in two years on a crude oil…
CenterPoint said the rate increase would would address the "rising costs of infrastructure projects" — such as upgrading and replacing pipelines —

CenterPoint seeks Minnesota rate hike averaging 8.7%

CenterPoint's request would raise average residential bill by 8.7%.
The Heartland Corn Products ethanol plant in Winthrop is shown in a 2007 file photo, (Staff photo by Glen Stubbe, ORG XMIT: M

Winthrop ethanol producer fined $53,000 for environmental violations

Heartland Corn Products, a southern Minnesota ethanol producer, has agreed to pay a $53,000 fine for a number of state environmental violations.The violations were discovered…
Xcel Energy's latest profit rose 5%, but the utility expects faster growth next year. File photo of new Xcel power lines under construction in central

Xcel likely to invest more in infrastructure

The utility's chief executive called the performance "solid" but Xcel expects bigger profit growth in 2020.
The state has a settlement with Frontier Communications on its landline service.

Minn. regulators OK Frontier settlement with state on landline service

Settlement offers future guarantees that the rural service will improve.
The state of Minnesota and Frontier Communications have reached a proposed settlement in regard to customer complaints about landline service in the s

Minnesota customers could get credits, refunds under proposed Frontier settlement

Regulators question phone company's remedy plan.
Smoke rises from the chimneys of homes in St. Paul's West 7th neighborhood Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019, as furnaces tried to keep up with the record brea

Xcel making $7.7M in fixes after customers lost heat during polar vortex

The utility laid new pipes and changed its cold temperature modeling after 180 customers were without heat as temperatures dropped to 30 degrees below zero in early 2019.
Tiger Oak Media, publisher of Minnesota Bride, filed for bankruptcy. Shown is a file photo of an employee working on the magazine.

Tiger Oak Media, publisher of Minnesota Bride magazine, files for bankruptcy

The Minneapolis firm, which publishes Minnesota Bride, owes creditors more than $2 million.
Phillips-Medisize in Hudson, Wis., a supplier for Juul, is almost done with a $63 million expansion.

Hudson, Wis., company that supplies Juul nearly done with $63M expansion

Completion comes just as e-cig industry is taking a beating.
Enbridge is long finished with the short Wisconsin portion of its $2.6 billion proposed pipeline. The Minnesota portion still needs regulatory approva

Process to approve Enbridge's Minnesota pipeline back in motion

Agency directed to address flaws found in environmental impact statement.
State utility regulators on Friday rejected Xcel Energy's plan to buy Southern Power's natural gas plant in Mankato.

Minnesota utility regulators reject Xcel's plan to buy Mankato gas plant

Xcel will still buy the plant, but through an unregulated subsidiary so shareholder bear risk.
Xcel Energy got a mixed report card on its future resource plan from clean energy groups, which liked that the utility planned to close the Sherco coa

Xcel's future needs report gets mixed grades from clean-energy groups

Utility's report on long-term generation receives mixed grades.
Dan Juhl specializes in local wind farms “where the power is being consumed, and it leads to the retention of energy dollars in the community.”

Minnesota wind-solar hybrid project could be new frontier for renewable energy

Juhl says small installations could help the utilities keep renewable supplies steady.
Workers have built the Wisconsin portion of a proposed Enbridge pipeline that would run across northern Minnesota.

Minn. Supreme Court rejects appeal on new Enbridge pipeline

The ruling restarts the oft-stalled process of gaining approvals to build a replacement for the corroding Line 3.
Gov. Tim Walz has created a Governor's Biofuel Council to help find ways to boost the ethanol industry.

Gov. Walz creates Minnesota biofuels council to help ethanol industry

Continuing turmoil has prices at a multiyear low.
A rig was drilling three new wells in North Dakota in this file photo. Oil and gas production broke another record in July in the state.

North Dakota oil, gas production hits new highs in July

The recent attack on Saudi facilities could raise prices, hike production further.
Prairie Island Nuclear Power Plant in Welch, Minn., is run by Xcel, which is participating in a study to see if plants could produce hydrogen cost-eff

Xcel part of study on using nuclear plants to produce hydrogen

The Minneapolis-based company is one of three utilities working with the federal government to see if a cost-effective process can be developed.
The Corn Plus plant in Winnebago, shown here in a file photo, is closing its doors after losing $100,000 a week as market forces have changed this yea

Minn. ethanol plant is casualty of new stress on biofuel industry

Corn Plus, run by a farmers cooperative, said it was losing $100,000 a week.
Contractor G4S has locked out security shift leaders at Xcel Energy's Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant.

Xcel nuclear plant security guards settle contract with their employer, ending lockout

Xcel says the Monticello nuclear plant guards employed by G4S are not following the picketing rules, interfering with workers' access to the plant.
Union security guards at Xcel's nuclear power plant in Monticello are are at an impasse with employer G4S and locked out.

Union guards at Xcel's Monticello nuclear plant locked out by employer

Union at impasse with G4S, provider of security at the plant.
A portion of Xcel Energy's Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant is pictured Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Dave Schwarz/The St. Cloud Times via AP)

Union guards could be locked out at Xcel's Monticello nuclear plant

Contract talks have broken down between the security contractor and union representing 25 guards.
Enbridge Energy won regulatory approval to reroute a portion of its Line 4 oil pipeline in northern Minnesota. File photo of a transfer station in Cle

An oil pipeline approved without controversy in Minnesota? Seems so

Fond du Lac band supported the rerouting of part of Enbridge's Line 4.

Minnesota AFSCME union leader 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.