Reporter | Energy, natural resources and sustainability

Walker Orenstein covers energy, natural resources and sustainability for the Star Tribune. Before that, he was a reporter at MinnPost and at news outlets in Washington state.

Walker Orenstein covers energy, natural resources and sustainability for the Star Tribune. Orenstein previously covered state government and politics with a focus on greater Minnesota and environmental issues for MinnPost, and he reported on the Legislature in Washington state for The News Tribune of Tacoma. He was raised in St. Paul and attended the University of Washington in Seattle. In his spare time, Orenstein enjoys playing hockey, hiking and camping..


A million gallons of coal ash wastewater spills at Minnesota Power coal plant

The Duluth-based electric utility said an unknown amount of polluted water had reached a nearby lake after a pipe leaked.


Minnesota dams mostly held up in June flooding, but old structures need repair

The Rapidan Dam near Mankato drew a national spotlight to what is a common problem in the state: old and creaky dams that are costly to fix, replace or remove.


Minnesota Power parent company explored sale starting in 2022 ahead of $6.2 billion deal

That revelation and others — like how the company CEO would cash in on the sale — came as part of disclosures ahead of an August stockholder vote to take Allete private.


Bridge next to Rapidan Dam at risk of failure a week after major flooding

Blue Earth County attempted an emergency operation to stabilize the bridge last week.


Xcel agrees to smaller Minnesota gas rate hike in deal for 7.5% increase

A settlement with state officials and others would result in an extra $4.20 per month on the bills of residential customers if utility regulators approve. The money would partly pay for maintenance and upgrades to Xcel's gas distribution and transmission infrastructure.


Xcel seeks $1.9 billion from Colorado customers to fund wildfire mitigation after 2021 blaze

The Minneapolis-based company is facing an onslaught of lawsuits from two destructive fires in Colorado and Texas. The plan would raise residential bills in Colorado by 9.56% but would not affect Minnesota rates.


House collapses into river near Rapidan Dam in southern Minn.

Blue Earth County authorities "monitoring for downstream impacts" after house falls into water.


The Rapidan Dam near Mankato will likely survive this flood. But what about the next?

Destructive flooding in 2019 and 2020 had previously left the 114-year-old hydroelectric plant inoperable and county officials grappling with the choice of spending at least $15 million to repair it — with little hope of making enough money from selling power — or shelling out $82 million to remove it.


Dam near Mankato in danger of 'imminent failure'

Flooding has washed out a portion of the Rapidan Dam on the Blue Earth River, as the water continues to rise.


Minnesota unions won new labor rules for broadband. Will it slow $652 million for rural access?

A volatile rift over proposed wage and safety rules as unions pushed for higher standards made the telecom industry warn Minnesota would lose out on once-in-a-generation funding for fast internet in rural areas. What passed has raised its own debate.