Staff Directory 6370445

Mike Hughlett

Reporter | Energy
Phone: 612-673-7003

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
In Texas, temperatures plunged and equipment froze in February. Supply cratered just as demand soared.

How a deep freeze in the South burned Minnesota consumers

Minnesota utilities made a losing bet on natural gas markets, leaving customers on the hook for higher prices.
A rig was drilling three new wells in North Dakota in this file photo.

Blackouts cut North Dakota oil production

Bad February storms in the south stressed the country's power grids and caused disruption in the state's oil counties.
Xcel's Sherco power plant in Becker. (GLEN STUBBE/Star Tribune)

Xcel wants to build $575M solar plant in Becker

Xcel Energy has unveiled plans for the largest solar energy plant in Minnesota by far, a $575 million project in Becker adjacent to the company's Sherco coal power complex.
JBS pork plant in Worthington. (ELIZABETH FLORES/Star Tribune)

Minnesota judge strikes down rule that eliminated pork plant restrictions

The federal lawsuit was filed on behalf of meatpacking unions, including one local that represents JBS in Worthington.
A sign in front of the 3M World Headquarters complex in suburban St. Paul.

First trial starts this week in massive 3M earplugs litigation

Nearly 230,000 claims are pending in federal court.
Great River Energy’s Coal Creek power plant in North Dakota would continue operating if negotiations with a potential buyer leads to a sale.(Staff p

Great River in talks to sell Coal Creek plant in North Dakota

The utility said last year that it planned to close the facility after failing to find a buyer.
Demonstrators lined the steps outside the Minnesota Judicial Center on Tuesday in St. Paul. (Staff photo by Glen Stubbe/

Oil demand, future of Enbridge Line 3 argued before appeals court

With pipeline half built, appeals panel explores whether oil industry projections swayed regulatory review.
Enbridge’s appeals of its state tax valuations have been bouncing through Minnesota courts for years. The Minnesota Tax Court’s latest opinions ar

Enbridge prevails in Minnesota Tax Court, counties brace for fiscal hit

'Worst-case scenario' rulings for 13 counties and other local governments conclude that Enbridge's assets were overtaxed for years.
clearing the way: Enbridge contractors cleared sawed trees and logs at one of the Line 3 work sites in Carlton, Minn., in December.

Is Enbridge Line 3 needed? Key question lands before Minnesota appeals court next week

The demand for oil — and thus the need for Enbridge's controversial new pipeline — will take center stage this week before the Minnesota Court…
CenterPoint said in a regulatory filing this week that it  had a $500 million commodity gas tab in Minnesota over a ten-day period in February, 56% mo

CenterPoint says Feb. cold snap could cost customers $354, plus interest

The utility is proposing adding the cost to bills over a two-year period beginning in May.
Members of Teamsters 120, from left, crane operator, Jim O’keefe, Scott Schulte, and Cheng Xiong, picketed outside the Marathon Refinery, Thursday,

Dispute idling 200 workers at St. Paul Park refinery enters its 8th week

Talks are scheduled to resume later this month between the union and Marathon Petroleum.
Xcel Energy said its first-quarter results were helped by the severe winter experienced in Minnesota and other parts of its service region. File photo

Xcel customers who owe thousands to get help settling their debt

Ratepayers won't have to foot the bill for program that covers up to 75% of big unpaid tabs.
The sun set over the Bakken Oil Formation, behind an oil well near Williston, N.D., in 2013.

North Dakota oil production dips again in January

Despite the decline, rising oil prices have brightened the recent outlook.
Xcel Energy’s Sherco Power Plant in Becker, Minn., in 2010. Xcel has converted major coal plants to gas in the Twin Cities, and it plans to close it

Xcel, environmentalists square off over planned gas-fired power plant

Company cites need for grid reliability; opponents push for end to fossil fuel.
Alex Golden-Wolf, who is Ojibwe, quit her restaurant jobs in the Duluth area to move to Camp Migizi, near Cloquet, to protest Line 3.

Enbridge's Line 3 deal-making divides Ojibwe bands in Minn.

Two offers, one accepted and one rejected, underscore Enbridge's attempts to win over the Ojibwe bands in Minnesota — and the tensions those efforts have caused as construction of the controversial pipeline enters its fourth month.
Duluth residents should not expect the increase in their natural gas bills that other Minnesota utilities are anticipating.

Duluth residents should be spared natural gas bill spike

The city-owned utility was shielded from recent high market prices, officials said.
These are power lines in Texas, where a historic storm caused reverberations in electricity bills in Minnesota. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

Minnesotans' heating bills could be $400 higher due to Southern storm

The amount will spread over months by the state's utilities.
Sen. Tina Smith has called for an investigation into possible natural gas price-gouging after a cold wave hit Texas.

Heating bill price shock could be felt in Minnesota as well

South's historic cold wave caused natural gas demand to skyrocket nationwide.
Cars move slowly through falling snow on Plano Road near Renner Road as a second winter storm hit Texas on Tuesday night. The power crisis that hit so

Power failures from giant Texas storm reach into Minnesota

Some customers along Minnesota's western border were hit by outages earlier this week.
Mike Priem

Mike Priem, electrician and union organizer, dies at 73

Mike Priem took up the electrician's trade as a young man and then devoted a good part of his life to expanding the ranks of…
Enbridge utility contractors worked to identify and mark an older Enbridge pipeline, Line 16, at one of the Line 3 work sites in Carlton, Minn. on Fri

Majority of those working on Enbridge pipeline from outside Minnesota

The goal was to hire 50% in-state workers.
3M said it will spend $1 billion over the next 20 years to advance its environmental goals.

3M raises spending on water quality, other environmental goals, sees $1B pricetag over 20 years

The Maplewood-based company says half the spending will be on people, half on capital projects.
A North Dakota oil field, pictured in 2015. (Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune)

North Dakota worried federal rulings, policies could affect oil output

The state's oil production was down 3% in December, while gas output was up.
Enbridge utility contractors work to identify and mark an older Enbridge pipeline, Line 16, at one of the Line 3 work sites in Carlton. (ALEX KORMANN/

Minnesota construction delay contributes to $1.1B price increase for Enbridge pipeline

Onset of winter and extension of the permitting process contributed to $1.1B increase.
Pictured are laborers working on the Wisconsin portion of the Enbridge replacement for Line 3. Construction is now underway on the Minnesota portion a

Second court says Enbridge can continue construction of $2.6B pipeline in Minnesota

Enbridge wins new round in legal clash over project.
Patty Keeling, vice president of the Asamblea de Derechos Civiles, led chants outside the Pilgrim’s Pride plant on May 11 in Cold Spring, Minn. J

Workplace COVID-19 complaints flood state safety agency

Minnesota saw 250% increase over prior year.
The Jeffers Petroglyphs site is an outcrop in southwestern Minnesota with pre-contact Native American petroglyphs. The earliest petroglyphs are estima

Indigenous, historic preservation groups object to wind project near Jeffers Petroglyphs

The project, the first large-scale wind and solar plant in the state, would impair the 'viewshed' of the historic site.
Enbridge utility contractors worked in December on the company's pipeline project across northern Minnesota in Carlton. (ALEX KORMANN/Star Tribune

Appeals Court rejects petition to halt construction on Enbridge's Minnesota pipeline

Two Ojibwe bands had asked for a stay on the controversial Line 3 replacement project.
3M headquarters in Maplewood. (Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune)

Analysts point to PFAS liability as a ding on 3M stock

While happy with its earnings report, they said the liability continues to drag down the stock's value.
Xcel Energy’s Sherco Power Plant in Becker. (AP Photo/St. Cloud Times, Jason Wachter, File)

Uneventful fourth quarter caps year in which Xcel's profits increased 6%

Economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic and flat sales affected performance for the Minneapolis-based utility.
3M headquarters in Maplewood. (ANTHONY SOUFFLE/Star Tribune)

3M ends 2020 on strong note, with fourth quarter earnings up 43%

Sales rose in all four divisions, with overall revenue up 5.8% for the quarter.
Flint Hills Resources has put out bids for a solar plant to help fuel its Pine Bend refinery in Rosemount. (GLEN STUBBE/

Rosemount refinery put out bids for its own large solar plant

The panels would produce electricity for the refinery, rare for an industrial site.
Minnesota's oldest refinery, the Marathon facility in St. Paul Park. (Provided photo)

200 Teamsters on strike at St. Paul Park refinery

Union members rejected a new contract offer on Thursday.
Michael Allen, president and co-founder of All Energy Solar, (Provided by All Energy Solar)

State regulators fine Xcel Energy $1M over dispute with solar developers

The complaints, most from All Energy Solar, were over delays connecting solar projects to the electricity grid.
A stack of 3M brand N95 particulate respirators on July 28, 2020, in San Anselmo, California.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/TNS) ORG XMIT: M

Florida company accused of selling fake 3M masks to HCMC hit with injunction

3M lawsuit alleges Nationwide Source sold fake masks at inflated prices, including to HCMC.
An oil well near Williston, N.D.

North Dakota oil production falls slightly in November

The month's oil and gas output was in line with expectations.
CenterPoint Energy customers will see an increase in rates. (Provided photo)

CenterPoint Energy residential customers in Minnesota will see 5% rate hike

State utility regulators on Thursday approved the increase, less than what the company asked for.
UnitedHealth Group headquarters in Minnetonka. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

UnitedHealth subsidiary indicted on collusion charges

The company said it would strong defend itself against allegations it agreed with competitors not to recruit each other's senior employees.
Developers have been rapidly adding solar power — such as this “solar farm” in North Branch — to the state’s grid in the past four years. Tw

Renewable-energy tax credits extended under pandemic stimulus package

Advocates say the stimulus measure will boost clean-energy projects here.
Developers have been rapidly adding solar power — such as this “solar farm” in North Branch — to the state’s grid in the past four years. Tw

Renewable-energy tax credits extended under pandemic stimulus package

Advocates say the stimulus measure will boost clean-energy projects here.
Pictured is the solar power plant in North Branch. The pandemic stimulus package extends tax credits that might help spur more development.

Renewable energy tax credits extended under pandemic stimulus package

Advocates say the move will be 'beneficial' to clean energy projects.
In 2007, Prince performed during the halftime show at the Super Bowl XLI.

IRS says Prince's estate undervalued by 50%, triggering another dispute in settlement

The Internal Revenue Service claims the executors of Prince's estate have lowballed its value by 50%, or about $80 million, triggering a dispute that could…
Enbridge utility contractors worked to identify and mark an older Enbridge pipeline, Line 16, at one of the Line 3 work sites in Carlton, Minn., in De

Ojibwe bands ask appeals court to stop Enbridge Line 3 construction

The Red Lake and White Earth bands filed suit, the second such filing in a week by pipeline opponents.
Jorge Villafuerte III died Dec. 18 in Hill City, Minn., after being run over by a telehandler at a pipeline construction yard.

Pipeline worker killed on Enbridge job site was father of nine

Jorge Villafuerte was run over Dec. 18 at a construction yard in Hill City.
Enbridge utility contractors worked to identify and mark an older Enbridge pipeline, Line 16, at one of the Line 3 work sites in Carlton, Minn. on Fri

Lawsuit seeks to halt Line 3 pipeline, alleging faulty approval process

Opponents maintain the Army Corps of Engineers didn't adqutely consider key environmental issues.
Wind turbines, that are part of the Prairie Star Wind Farm, turned out electricity among the farms and fields of Mower County near Grand Meadow. ORG X

Minnesota regulators approve $750M Xcel wind power project

The project would involve rebuilding five wind farms, making them more efficient.
Enbridge pipeline worker killed in industrial accident

Enbridge pipeline worker killed in industrial accident

The death occurred in a construction yard in Hill City, Minn.
A coal train is idle on the tracks leading to the Sherburne County Generating Station on Wednesday afternoon in Becker.

Xcel residential rates to remain the same in 2021

Large commercial customers that will see a bump has argued against the state regulatory decision.
3M headquarters in Maplewood. (ANTHONY SOUFFLE/Star Tribune)

3M sales grow 8% in November, continuing to accelerate since pandemic low

If trends continue, the company expects to top 2019 fourth quarter sales.
North Dakota oil production was flat, and natural gas production, up 2% in October.

North Dakota oil production not likely to improve for months

October production was essentially flat; natural gas production was up 2%.
Xcel Energy, Minnesota’s largest electricity provider, has two proposals pending before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

Crunch time for Xcel electricity rate hike request

Declining commercial power sales and the pandemic have made for an usually complicated rate case.
Great River Energy will use wind farms similar to this one near Alden, Minn., to produce electricity once it closes its coal plant. (ANTHONY SOUFFLE,

Great River announces Minnesota wind farm projects to replace coal plant power

The wind farms are mostly in the southern part of the state.
Great River will close its Coal Creek plant in 2022, becoming the first major producer in the Upper Midwest to abandon coal.

Great River's power line gives it leverage in any potential sale

More interest may be shown in line than plant.
Dr. Ernest Ruiz

Ernest Ruiz, founder of HCMC's emergency care practice, dies at 89

The practice was one of the country's first — and helped create a new field of medicine.
Enbridge Energy has already built a 14-mile stretch of Line 3 from the Minnesota line to its terminal in Superior, Wis., but the rest of the project f

Ojibwe bands ask Minnesota utility regulators to stay their OK of Enbridge pipeline

The move is a key step before an appeal is filed.
FILE - In this June 29, 2018, file photo, pipeline used to carry crude oil is shown at the Superior, Wis., terminal of Enbridge Energy. A significant

PUC gives construction OK to Enbridge for Minnesota pipeline

Only one more permit is needed before construction can begin.
Two Minnesota regulators granted environmental permits for Enbridge’s Line 3 oil pipeline across northern Minnesota, critical approvals needed for c

Army Corps of Engineers issues Enbridge permit for Line 3

The permit is last big hurdle for the construction project, which will be one of largest in recent history for Minnesota.

PUC backs CenterPoint plan for renewable natural gas system

The utility hopes to establish a supply system to sell renewable natural gas to customers.
The sun set over the Bakken Oil Formation, behind an oil well near Williston in 2013. North Dakota, the nation's second-largest oil and gas producer,

Oil and gas production rising in North Dakota, but future is murky

North Dakota posted a solid hike in petroleum output in September, while the industry now races to start new wells before pro-oil President Donald Trump…
3M headquarters in Maplewood, Minnesota. (ANTHONY SOUFFLE/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS) ORG XMIT: 1770033

3M monthly sales grew, but not at rate seen over summer

Consumers were spending more on household items and home improvement.
Shown is Enbridge's work on the Wisconsin portion of the company's new pipeline. Pollution regulators approved permits for the project on Thursday.

$2.6B Enbridge pipeline construction a go after permits OK'd

Construction could start in December after the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Department of Natural Resources approved the $2.6 billion project; Army Corps of Engineers permit expected.
Star Tribune file photo

Xcel extends 25% discounts to small businesses because of coronavirus pandemic

Temporary credits are offered to offset pandemic losses.
Windmills fill the landscape near Alden, Minn. The Public Utilities Commission has asked utilities to help jump-start the state’s economy during the

Minnesota utility regulators getting pushback on economic stimulus initiative

Minnesota utility regulators made an unusual call this spring. They asked the state’s electric and gas utilities to pitch investments that could help jump-start the…
Xcel's Minnesota customers will pay more next year — the question is how much

Xcel's Minnesota customers will pay more next year — the question is how much

Hefty increase depends on regulators' decision on COVID investment plan.
Star Tribune file photo

Xcel sees rise in residential electricity use because of pandemic

Industrial and commercial sectors down as more people work from home.
3M headquarters in Maplewood.

N95s, other health care products continue to buoy 3M

The Maplewood-based company beat Wall Street estimates for the third quarter.
Enbridge has already built the 14-mile stretch of a pipeline in Wisconsin that would connect to a portion across northern Minnesota that is still in t

Complaint says Enbridge's new $2.6 billion pipeline is no longer necessary

Because the oil company has increased capacity, Honor the Earth claims the new pipeline across northern Minnesota is not needed.
A Brazilian miner holds a pan with gold nuggets after a day of work.

Notion of gold rush in northern Minnesota hits setback

Minnesota's largest holder of precious-metal mining leases terminated them, turning to a promising venture in Nevada.
A North Dakota oil field, pictured in 2015.

North Dakota oil production swells as wells go back online

The steep oil price drop in the spring caused a big dip in production, but the industry is back to more normal levels.
Enbridge Energy has already built a 14-mile stretch of its new pipeline in Wisconsin and another short portion in North Dakota. It is still waiting fo

Judge backs MPCA on water permits for Enbridge pipeline

An administrative law judge has found that Minnesota pollution regulators properly considered the construction impacts of Enbridge's controversial new pipeline, a blow to the oil pipeline's opponents.
Prairie Island Nuclear Power Plant in Welch. Xcel will build the pilot hydrogen plant either at Prairie Island or its nuclear facility in Monticello.

Xcel gets $10.5M federal grant for pilot project on hydrogen

The new plant will be at either Prairie Island or the utility's Monticello nuclear facility.
3M headquarters in Maplewood.

3M's efforts on counterfeit N95 mask crackdown leads to raids in Vietnam, U.A.E.

1,200 seizures and raids so far have uncovered knockoffs.
Xcel proposes program to help folks who can't pay their utility bills

Xcel proposes program to help folks who can't pay their utility bills

Minnesota's past-due utility bills grow with "long and hard winter" ahead.
Solar panels are shown in Rockford, Minn. Solar developers said Xcel’s management of a new 2019 industrywide standard has led to monthslong delays f

Minnesota solar developers fault Xcel for delays in their projects

The energy firm rejects the criticism; a $1 million fine is at stake.
A small green light blinked on George Host’s Tesla while it charged at the ChargePoint charging station near Canal Park Lodge in Duluth, MN on Thurs

Appellate court upholds Xcel electric vehicle charging programs

State PUC had OK'd pilot programs to foster electric vehicle use.