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David Shaffer

Reporter | Energy and business
Recent content from David Shaffer
IBM retiree and Trout Unlimited volunteer Raymond Ricketts has helped coordinate 21 stream restoration projects.

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.
The firms will build solar projects to offset some electricity used by local governments.

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.
Empty railroad tank cars snake their way into a storage yard in Newark, Delaware, July 28, 2013 The cars will return to North Dakota's Bakken region t

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.
Power Over Time officials Nick Wormley, Ralph Jenson and Matthew Blackler, from left, near a bank of prototypes of their energy controllers.

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.
Floor hand Ray Gerrish worked to make repairs on a drilling rig as the sun rose near the site outside Watford City, N.D., on Dec. 17, 2013.

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.
“While the Court’s temporary stay is a disappointing, it does nothing to diminish our resolve in Minnesota to keep moving forward on clean energy

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
Steam from operations shrouded the Buffalo Lake Advanced Biofuels plant in Buffalo Lake, Minn., last year. The plant ceased production in January beca

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.
The Pine Bend refinery in Rosemount will undergo a $750 million upgrade, which will be the largest at the site in at least a decade.

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.
Two coal-burning units at the Sherco power plant in Becker, Minn., will be retired sometime in the 2020s, to Xcel Energy said.

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
Rate hikes in several areas offset lower electric and natural gas demand during the last three months of the year for Xcel Energy.

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 generators on a wind farm near Hartland, Minn. Minnesota is a pioneer in wind energy: The state gets 15 percent of its power from wind, ranks sev

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.
Ted Christopher is the founder and CEO of Verterra Energy Inc. He’s standing with the prototype of a turbine that took him several years to develop.

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.
On Friday, North Dakota crude dropped to $20 per barrel. That’s one-fifth of the price of 2012, at the peak Bakken boom.

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…
Environmental Protection Agency greenhouse gas regulations could limit how Otter Tail operates its coal-fired power 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.
TenK Solar is getting a sizable investment from Goldman Sachs. 2012 file photo of solar arrays on the roof of the company's headquarters in Bloomingto

TenKsolar raises $25 million from new investors including Goldman Sachs

Investment will help sales; new investors include Goldman Sachs & Co.
Trains are loaded with coal at dawn at Arch Coal's Black Thunder mine near Wright, Wyo. The trains never stop moving under the giant coal loadout silo

Largest coal supplier to Minnesota electric utilities files for bankruptcy protection

Arch says it will keep shipping; Minnesota utilities don't foresee problems
Cathy and Kevin Palmer of Blaine are offsetting all their home’s electricity with power bought from Connexus’ solar garden in Ramsey (background).

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

After slow start, Connexus offered monthly payment option and business jumped
Clayton G. Rein, Twin Cities real estate developer and manger, art collector and founder and first president of the Minnesota Multi Housing Associatio

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…
An administrative law judge said utility customers in Minnesota and other Midwest states are paying transmission line fees that are too high.

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…
Among those worried about a drop in property values are homeowners Rick and Cheryl Ramberg.

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.
Dakota Plains Holdings of Wayzata is being investigated for a run-up in stock prices on its initial public offering in 2012.

SEC investigating unusual 2012 stock trading at oil train company

The inquiry is focused on a loan to a Wayzata firm.
Prairie Island nuclear plant in Red Wing, Minn., is expected to receive $891 million in upgrades between 2016 and 2018.

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.
Men worked around the clock at Raven Rig No. 1 near Watford City during better times in December 2013. Just 65 drilling rigs are operating in North Da

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
Enbridge’s 2010 pipeline rupture in Marshall, Mich., above, that spilled 843,000 gallons of dilbit into a Kalamazoo River tributary is cited in new

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

Utility is leader in wind power, and investments are paying off.
An aerial photo of the parking ramps showing where the solar arrays at Minneapolis-St. Paul International 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.…
The gray concrete walls of the Monticello nuclear power plant, 40 miles north of the Twin Cities, shown in 2012.

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.
CHS said its profit fell 28 percent in its fiscal year that ended in August.

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

Annual profit declines 28 percent for the nation's largest farmer-owned cooperative.
A train made its way along the tracks near downtown Minneapolis on Tuesday. The number of trains carrying oil from North Dakota and traveling through

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

Temporary rerouting sends more past Target Field and through downtown Minneapolis.
Regular was priced at $1.92 per gallon at the BP on 36th Street and Lyndale Avenue S. in Minneapolis on Thursday.

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.
A self-driving Tesla is on display in the west metro area.

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, one of the biggest construction and development firms in the country, is starting a unit to build and install large battery systems for ele

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.
The Blue Flint Ethanol station in North Dakota is owned by Midwest AgEnergy, which actually grew sales in the third quarter.

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.
Minnesota Power, the utility that supplies energy to the Iron Range of northern Minnesota, is relief on rates for taconite mines and paper mills in th

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.
The Keystone XL pipeline would have transported some of North Dakota’s oil out of the Bakken, as well as from Canada.

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 Energy said it will begin seeking a three-year rate hike of nearly 10 percent from Minnesota customers. File photo of new Xcel power lines under

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 said its third-quarter profit climbed nearly 16 percent, lifted by higher rates in Minnesota and the seven other states in which it operates.

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 solar arrays are designed to work in snowy conditions — but that wasn’t the problem with panels that saw their output reduced this summe

TenKsolar to replace failed equipment on solar power arrays

A software problem with solar arrays curtailed energy production during late summer.
The Dayton administration said Tuesday that it is seeking bids for electricity produced by large shared-solar projects with the aim of reducing power

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.
A train made its way along the tracks near downtown Minneapolis on Tuesday. The number of trains carrying oil from North Dakota and traveling through

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.
Winona LaDuke led protestors as they demonstrated outside the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in St. Paul, before the hearing on June 3, 2015

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.
The Hometown BioEnergy plant in Le Sueur turns farm and food industry waste into methane to generate electricity.ity. Methane is stored in three white

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

The federally subsidized plant is generating less electricity, more odor.
Lyon-Lincoln Electric Coop Lineman Dan Tutt installs an LED Street Light in Russell, Minn., in 2014. More cities are saving money and improving night

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

Utility's five-year project promises better lighting, savings for cities.
A worker strived to repair a North Dakota oil rig in late 2013, a time when the industry was still going strong in the state.

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.
Emery Bulinski in 1967 on the porch of Snowbank Lodge. It was rebuilt from logs he had hauled across the ice.

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…
Stockpiled coal at Xcel Energy's Sherco plant in Becker, Minn. The utility is planning to retire two of three coal burners, replacing them with a gas-

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 said it is ramping up production of a biofuel called isobutanol at this former ethanol plant in Luverne, Minn.

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.
Winona LaDuke, founder of Honor the Earth, spoke at a news conference Thursday. Environmental groups sued the U.S. State Department for accepting a pl

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.
Energy from the Shakopee solar project will be used onsite. A community solar garden planned by the Met Council in Farmington will be scaled back to m

Big power users face smaller harvest from solar gardens

State regulators' recent decision to limit the number of solar gardens per site — a change sought by Xcel and supported by some solar developers — has clouded the prospects for corporate and institutional deals.
Bob Lodin filled his motorcycle with $2.39-per-gallon gas at a BP in south Minneapolis.

Surprise at the pump: Lowest Labor Day gas prices in 11 years

Gas prices hit an 11-year low just in time for holiday travel; they could drop even further this fall.
Solar energy companies and the state Commerce Department have asked regulators to jump start the solar program, but Xcel has authorized only one solar

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
The Sandpiper pipeline would partly parallel this existing crude oil pipeline near Park Rapids, Minn.

Environmental, tribal groups want Sandpiper route reconsidered

Minnesota PUC is not obligated to revisit its June decision.
In this Jan. 30, 2008, file photo, steam rises from the Milton Young Power Plant near Center, N.D.

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

Clean Power Plan has incentives for states to work jointly on carbon emissions.