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
Shown is the Xcel Energy solar farm in Chisago County. The PUC approved a new solar plant in Becker on Thursday.

Minnesota regulators vote to move forward the third large Xcel solar project in Becker

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved the land acquisition and other details for the project.
Minnesota regulators stick with decision for smaller rate increase than Xcel wanted

Minnesota regulators stick with decision for smaller rate increase than Xcel wanted

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously to reject Xcel's request to reconsider the rate case decision.
Talon Metals is doing preliminary work to set up a nickel mine near Tamarack in northern Minnesota.

Another $20M in federal funds for northern Minnesota Talon nickel mine

The Talon project, backed by Rio Tinto, will need to match the Department of Defense grant.
Workers at Cirrus Aircraft in Duluth worked on a single-engine jet.

Duluth's Cirrus Aircraft flies high with Chinese owner

With business booming, Cirrus has filed for an IPO in Hong Kong. Still, it would remain controlled by the Chinese state as tensions rise between the U.S. and China.
Delta Air Lines wants to replace 10% of the fuel it uses at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2027.

Delta, Xcel push for sustainable aviation fuel hub in Minnesota

A manufacturer is needed to make those dreams a reality.
Dry fuel storage at Xcel Energy Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant seen during a refueling outage April 27.

State OKs storing more nuclear waste at Xcel's Monticello plant

The PUC's vote is a key step to extend the life of the nuclear plant.
From promising to endangered, Minneapolis-based Foxo Technologies teeters on the brink

From promising to endangered, Minneapolis-based Foxo Technologies teeters on the brink

The Minneapolis life insurance firm is hit by weak sales, the termination of its CEO and an SEC investigation.
Minnesota rural cooperatives are banding together to get federal money for clean energy projects.

Minnesota electric co-ops band together to secure $970M in federal clean power money

Great River Energy is leading a group of Minnesota co-ops in applying to the USDA for grants and loans to reduce carbon emissions.
A North Dakota oil field, pictured in 2015.

North Dakota's oil industry had its best month in more than 2 years

The state's petroleum and natural gas output each climbed 3% in June.
U.S. Steel expanded its Keewatin operations on the Iron Range in 2022 with a new direct-reduced iron facility. Shown is iron ore fed into tumbling gri

With U.S. Steel on sales block, is a Minnesota iron ore shake-up ahead?

U.S. Steel rejected a buyout offer from Cliffs, but the Iron Range's only two taconite miners may yet combine. U.S. Steel then received a competing bid from Esmark.
Xcel late Monday petitioned the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to reconsider its June 1 decision to increase rates by $306 million, or 9%, over

Xcel says state regulators erred in rate case and asks for do-over

Xcel said the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission was unreasonable and erred legally when it did not grant the utility's rate increase request.
Lakeville man remains jailed on suspicion of being drunk when he caused fatal crash in Minneapolis

Lakeville man remains jailed on suspicion of being drunk when he caused fatal crash in Minneapolis

A 42-year-old Fridley man was killed in the crash at 50th Street and S. Lyndale Avenue.
Police called to the 200 block of Stinson Street found a 12-year-old boy suffering from an apparent gunshot wound.

Teen arrested in fatal shooting of 12-year-old boy in St. Paul

A 14-year-old male is in custody pending charges of manslaughter, St. Paul police said. Relatives said the shooting was accidental.
Girl injured in ATV accident in northeastern Minnesota

Girl injured in ATV accident in northeastern Minnesota

The 6-year-old fell off the ATV and was run over by the brush mower it was pulling.
The Duluth Fire Department said that Lake Superior along Park Point can produce rip currents reaching more than 100 yards offshore.

Canadian man rescues 2 swimmers after riptide sweeps them into Lake Superior in Duluth

Toronto man said he heard a cry for help and rushed to help the two young women.
State regulators approved the withdrawal of a plan by Xcel that included a $192 buildout of fast-charging electric vehicle stations.

Minnesota regulators blast Xcel for halting projects after rate case decision

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission voted to allow Xcel to scrap a program that included a rollout of EV chargers but held them to a microgrid project for underserved communities.
Cargill Inc. headquarters in Minnetonka.

Cargill fights fraud claims by Russian bank over 'imaginary problems'

Minnetonka-based Cargill seeks to thwart a subpoena for financial records related to bank with Kremlin ties.
CenterPoint’s underground gas storage facility in Waterville, Minn.

Consumer advocacy group dings Minnesota gas utilities for overspending on capital investments

The Citizens Utility Board of Minnesota says the investment plans will have an outsized effect on customers' bills. Utilities deny the claims.
Xcel’s Sherco power generation plant in Becker.

Xcel says profitability down partly because of Minnesota regulators' decision on rates

Unfavorable weather conditions, especially in Colorado, also affected results. Minnesota regulators did not allow as large a rate increase as Xcel wanted.
In the early 1990s, William Hodder led the Minnesota Business Partnership, which represents the state’s largest corporations.

William Hodder, longtime leader of Bloomington-based Donaldson, dies at 92

He helped root the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management in the business community.
Two state agencies say Xcel has failed at its electric vehicle charging pilot projects.

Xcel drops plans for EV fast chargers after regulators nix preferred rate hike

In filings with state regulators, the Attorney General's Office and the Department of Commerce took the company to task for mistakes in its pilot projects.
Crews moved machinery earlier this month as they worked to remove old equipment from an old mill that PolyMet wants to become a processing facility.

Glencore deal to purchase all of PolyMet moves forward

A special committee of PolyMet's board approved the deal; now it needs full board approval.
Crews work earlier this month to remove fine crushed taconite ore from the old LTV Steel mill in Hoyt Lakes, where PolyMet wants to locate it processi

Minnesota locked in global dilemma: More copper and nickel are needed, but mine development slow

There's a not-in-my-backyard mentality surrounding new hardrock mine projects.
Insurers are suing Xcel Energy after a December 2021 wildfire that destroyed this Boulder County neighborhood, among other land, in Colorado.

Dozens of insurers sue Xcel to recoup Colorado wildfire losses

The official fire investigation found that a spark from an Xcel line contributed to one of the two fires that converged to cause the damage, but did not find the Minneapolis-based utility liable. The insurers disagree with the finding.
Xcel got the OK from the Public Utilities Commission to put a industrial grade battery project in Becker.

Minnesota regulators approve Xcel battery project in Becker; its cost was not disclosed

The battery can store electricity for 25 times longer than conventional grid batteries.
The proposed site of the controversial PolyMet copper-nickel mine near Babbitt, Minn.

Glencore bids $73M to take full ownership of PolyMet

The international mining company already owns 82% of the company proposing a controversial copper-nickel mine in northern Minnesota.
The SEC filed suit against Spartan Trading and the estate of one of its partners, alleging securities fraud.

Bloomington murder-suicide tied to securities fraud in Minnesota small towns

U.S. securities regulators claim perpetrator and victims of the killings raised over $3.7 million for fraudulent stock trading scheme
On CenterPoint’s list are hydrogen pilot projects that would supplement carbon dioxide-emitting fossil gas to produce energy.

CenterPoint proposes $106M plan to cut carbon emissions from its gas system

The plan includes 18 pilot projects ranging from geothermal heating to increased use of "renewable" natural gas and hydrogen.
Military firefighters extinguish a helicopter fire during a training exercise in 2007 at Fort Knox. Maplewood-based 3M on Thursday announced a settlem

3M makes $10.5B settlement in 'forever chemical' cases involving drinking water

The settlement involves a bevy of cases out of South Carolina involving cities and public water agencies. Other companies settled the cases earlier.
A worker inside the reactor building of Xcel Energy Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant during a refueling outage on Thursday, April 27, 2023 in Monti

Minnesota's clean energy plan needs nuclear power, but aging plants have their own risks

Xcel recently asked nuclear regulators to extend the life of its Monticello plant from 60 to 80 years and expects to do the same for Prairie Island.
North Dakota’s oil industry had a near flat month in April. Shown in this file photo are oil pump jacks in Williston, N.D.

North Dakota oil industry has lackluster month

The number of rigs, an indicator of future activity, also was down.
The Aearo bankruptcy case is only one piece of litigation surrounding the earplugs that 3M sold to the military.

3M bankruptcy court gambit to resolve earplug lawsuits rejected by judge

The development is a big blow to 3M's defense against lawsuits that claim the Maplewood-based company is liable for alleged flaws in earplugs it sold to the military.
3M asked for a delay in a firefighting foam PFAS case as it negotiates a settlement.

'Forever chemical' trial delayed; 3M settlement appears near

Major trial over toxic PFAS chemicals used in firefighting foam was slated to start Monday in a South Carolina federal court.
Xcel customers will see their bills increase, but not as much as the utility wanted.

Xcel will reassess investments in Minnesota after regulators' rate hike decision

Regulators approved a 9%, three-year rate increase, much less than Xcel had requested. The state's largest utility says it will ask for a reconsideration of the decision.
Xcel Energy said it plans to bring the Prairie Island nuclear generator that was shut down over the weekend back online later this week. Prairie Islan

Xcel shuts down nuke generator at Prairie Island after 'unusual event'

Fire alarms went off after an external transformer malfunctioned, the utility said, but there was no fire and no threat to the public or to plant workers.
A joint venture between Polymet and Teck American will begin transforming a former taconite plant in Hoyt Lake into a copper-nickel operation.

PolyMet venture clearing out Hoyt Lakes taconite plant for copper-nickel project

The PolyMet and Teck American joint venture will spend $18 million and employ up to 120 workers on the project.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz speaks with Essar Group executive Ravi Ruia after the hearing on Thursday.

Minnesota awards Nashwauk mineral leases to Cleveland-Cliffs

The Department of Natural Resources had canceled Mesabi Metallics' rights to the leases in Nashwauk after the company failed to meet requirements.
A state panel on Thursday will decide the fate of Mesabi Metallics’ mineral leases. Mesabi has for years promised to build a facility in Nashwauk, M

Mesabi Metallics' last-ditch effort could complicate award of Nashwauk mineral leases

A state panel on Thursday will vote whether to approve the Department of Natural Resources' recommendation to award the leases to Cleveland-Cliffs.
The Edina Public Works Community Solar Garden was built in 2019.

Minnesota will revamp community solar garden program, but questions about cost remain

Legislation expected to be signed this week will transfer administration to the state Department of Commerce, but some of the costs will continue to be passed down to Xcel Energy ratepayers.
3M CEO Mike Roman has been ordered to attend a mediation session in Florida this week in regard to military earplug litigation.

Judge orders 3M CEO to attend mediation for earplug lawsuits

Mike Roman is required to go to Florida this week to help resolve costly federal litigation against 3M military earplugs.
University of Minnesota research that pioneered turning wind into ammonia will be used in a new process that would use wind power to produce hydrogen.

Xcel, Minnesota vie for billions in federal funds to create 'clean' hydrogen hub

The proposal would jump-start several hydrogen projects in North Dakota and Minnesota, including Xcel using renewable power to make hydrogen for a potential fertilizer plant in Morris.
Senate Majority Leader Kari Dziedzic, DFL-Minneapolis, talked with Sen. Foung Hawj, DFL-St. Paul, chair of the Environment Conference Committee, befor

Lawmakers reach historic deal on environment, climate, energy

The bill features a broad ban on PFAS and $1 billion in new spending for environment and energy projects.
North Dakota oil production was down in March. Natural gas production was flat.

North Dakota oil, natural gas production 'mixed bag'

The state's March production report had oil production falling while natural gas production was flat.
Pictured is the North Star Solar project in Chisago County, which provides Xcel Energy power. Xcel plans a second solar installation near the Sherco p

Xcel's plans in Becker would create one of largest solar plants in country

As Xcel announces an addition to its already giant Sherco solar project, the company acknowledges soaring construction prices for solar power.
Cleveland-Cliffs has gotten mineral rights formerly held by Mesabi Metallics, which it said it needed to keep Hibbing Taconite operational long-term.

DNR recommends Cleveland-Cliffs get much sought after mineral rights in Nashwauk

The rights are up for bid after Mesabi Metallics went into default on state agreements.
A North Star Manganese drill rig operated on property north of Emily in Crow Wing County, pulling up rock core to better understand the potential of a

Controversial Crow Wing Power mine project inches forward

However, an AG investigation and financing are among many challenges the co-op faces.
Fixes for a tritium leak from Xcel’s Monticello nuclear plant are not expected to pose significant costs for the utility.

Monticello tritium leak will not be big hit to Xcel's balance sheet

Quarterly earnings beat estimates with an 8.6% profit increase.
The Northshore taconite processing and shipping facility in Silver Bay for “swing production.”

Northshore Mining on Iron Range open again after a year of idling

Local officials said all workers were offered their jobs back.
3M’s Combat Arms earplugs are at the center of a huge personal injury file of cases. They were made by subsidiary Aearo, which has filed for bankrup

Court weighs dismissal of controversial bankruptcy of 3M earplug subsidiary

A federal judge in Indiana began hearings on whether 3M's use of bankruptcy court is appropriate as it faces lawsuits over allegedly defective earplugs.
Area code 507’s turf – spanning southern Minnesota from Winona to Pipestone — won’t change. But new phone customers will be assigned 924. Abov

There's a new area code in southern Minnesota's 507 region

Current phone users will keep their 507, but new customers will get 924 starting in 2025.
Pope County Sheriff Tim Riley reacts after the death of deputy Joshua Owen, Sunday, April 16, 2023, at a news conference in Glenwood, Minn.

Pope County deputy killed, 2 other officers shot in arrest attempt

The BCA is investigating the shootings which came when the officers responded to a domestic dispute in Cyrus, a town of about 300 in west-central Minnesota.
The Senate Energy and Environment committees held a hearing Wednesday on the tritium leak at Xcel’s Monticello nuclear plant.

Xcel, state regulators called in front of Senate committees over tritium leak

They acknowledged it would be better had they disclosed the leak sooner but also stressed that it did not pose a human health risk.
Vera Tanasichuk

Ukrainian immigrant, benefactor to Arden Hills Orthodox church, dies at 82

Vera Tanasichuk as a child fled with her family from repression in Ukraine.
Otter Tail will retain its partial ownership of the Coyote Station coal power plant in North Dakota.

Otter Tail Power reverses course, will stick with North Dakota coal plant

The Minnesota utility had planned to exit Coyote Station, but now says electricity market concerns have changed its plans.
Xcel’s Sherco coal plant in Becker, Minn.

Administrative law judge says Xcel's rate increase request should be lower

Xcel already lowered its request, but a judge ruled it wasn't sufficiently reduced.
Soap will made from residue collected from a CarbinX unit, a CenterPoint pilot project in Radisson Blu at Mall of America.

In CenterPoint pilot project, CO2 waste will be used for soap-making

A machine captures CO2 from the water heater and boiler.
A walking trail at the Montissippi County Park gives a distant view of the Xcel Energy generating nuclear plant in Monticello.

Xcel shutting down nuke plant after fix to stop leak didn't work

Xcel said it will do a full analysis of why the leak occurred and said its other power sources should be able to cover the state's electricity needs while the Monticello plant is down.
Xcel Energy’s Westcott Plant in Inver Grove Heights is a peaking plant, meaning it switches on during an emergency to replenish the natural gas syst

Minnesota regulators approve 2.7% natural gas rate hike for Xcel

Xcel originally asked for an increase of more than 6%.
Christopher Clark, Xcel Energy’s president for Minnesota and North and South Dakota, spoke in Monticello, Minn., this morning.

Xcel discovers new leak at Monticello plant, will power down for repairs

The company reported the new leak to be in the "hundreds of gallons" range. The original leak reported last week was about 400,000 gallons.
The Edina Public Works Community Solar Garden was built in 2019.

Minnesota's community solar garden program set for a revamp under proposed legislation

A new Senate bill would ditch the subscription model for most of the small solar arrays, making them operate more like the utility-scale projects.
The tritium at the Monticello plant leaked from a 3-inch pipe that carried water from the plant’s turbine building to its reactor building.

Monticello leak of radioactive water was 6th worst of its kind

The well that first showed evidence of a tritium leak now shows levels about half the original amount, MPCA says
The gray concrete walls of Xcel Energy’s Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant.

Xcel is cleaning up radioactive water spill at Monticello plant

Xcel and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency both said the 400,000-gallon spill posed no threat to drinking water or the nearby Mississippi River.
Oil pump jacks in Williston, N.D.

North Dakota oil and gas production rebounded in January

The nation's third-largest oil producing state has recovered slowly from pandemic disruptions.
The Xcel Energy solar farm in North Branch is currently the largest of its kind in Minnesota. Xcel has a larger solar farm planned in Becker, and the

Regulators approve $256M solar farm in southern Minnesota

County officials had objected because it would be located on more than 1,500 acres of prime farmland.
A taxpayer-backed fund would help create new energy projects.

$115M Minnesota fund could help match federal grants for energy projects

The money would help utilities or governments when a matching fund is needed.
An electric vehicle charging station in Pennsylvania. Xcel is planning to spend nearly $200 million on a charger network in Minnesota.

Xcel's plans for EV charging network spark strong opposition

The charging industry — and the state's Commerce Department — question Xcel's nearly $200 million ratepayer-funded plan for over 700 utility-owned chargers.
The Minnesota Department of National Resources’ decision to reassign mineral leases in Nashwauk, Minn., originally tied to a project still in limbo

Cleveland-Cliffs, U.S. Steel vying for mineral rights in Nashwauk on Iron Range

The requests were made after the Minnesota Supreme Court upheld the Department of Natural Resources' termination of Mesabi Metallics' leases.
Minnesota Power is asking for $25 million from both Minnesota and North Dakota to upgrade a major power line across the region.

Minnesota Power asks Legislature for $25M toward $700M refurbishing of key power line

The line runs from Hermantown to North Dakota. The Duluth-based utility also is asking North Dakota for $25 million and the federal government for another $50 million.
3M corporate headquarters in Maplewood.

3M subsidiary claims many military plaintiffs in earplug case did not suffer hearing loss

The Maplewood-based giant's Aearo Technologies subsidiary filed the claim — which plaintiff attorneys deny — in bankruptcy court.
Northshore Mining in Silver Bay and Babbitt, which has sat idle for nearly a year, will reopen in early April after a royalties dispute between owner

Idled since May, iron ore operation in Babbitt and Silver Bay set to reopen

Minnesota state senator says mine operator Cleveland-Cliffs told him it is recalling workers with plans for an April reopening.
North Dakota oil production was down in December as expected. The rig count has grown slightly, which means January and February production should be

December weather resulted in North Dakota oil and gas output sinking 13%

It was the biggest one-month drop since April and was expected.
A former iron ore processing plant near Hoyt Lakes, Minn., would become part of a proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine.

PolyMet, Teck complete Minnesota copper-nickel mine merger

The companies' joint venture comes as mine construction costs have risen sharply — but so have expectations for increased mining revenues.
Xcel Energy’s Dakota Range wind farm outside of Marvin, SD., is among the renewable energy sources the utility will rely on.

Minnesota's new clean power mandate poses thorny and expensive challenges

New law that pushes utilities to adopt 100% carbon free electricity by 2040 will cut greenhouse gas emissions and lead to huge renewable power buildout.
Allete wants to be a big partner in a planned multi-state electrical grid.

Minnesota Power's parent company investing $875M in multistate power line

The $2.5 billion project that will run from North Dakota to Montana has Duluth-based Allete as one of the biggest investors.
Majority Whip Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., accompanied by other House GOP leaders, speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, J

Minnesota's Emmer, still a crypto booster, says Congress needs to step up oversight of regulators

The influential industry — and the collapse of FTX — present Congress with a conundrum.