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POLITICO New York Energy: Cuomo's renewable mandate; pipeline application filed

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

Good morning! Only POLITICO New York Pro subscribers receive this email at 5:30 a.m. each weekday. If you'd like to receive it at that time, along with a customized real-time news feed of New York energy policy news throughout the day, please contact us at and we'll set you up for trial access. We’ll send the same newsletter to non-Pro subscribers at 10 a.m. Thank you for reading.

CUOMO TO MANDATE RENEWABLE, CLEAN ENERGY USE — The New York TImes’ Patrick McGeehan: “Frustrated by the pending shutdown of two nuclear power plants on Lake Ontario, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo plans to order state regulators to mandate that, by 2030, half of all power consumed by New Yorkers be generated from renewable sources that emit much less carbon dioxide, people briefed on the matter said ... In the intervening years, the energy policy would give utilities an incentive to use power generated by nuclear plants, which are considered clean sources, though not renewable. By pushing utilities to obtain more of the power they distribute from less-polluting sources, state officials hope to delay the planned shutdown of two nuclear power plants on the shore of Lake Ontario. Aides to the governor have been trying for several weeks to dissuade Entergy from closing one of them, the James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Oswego County.”

APPLICATION FILED FOR MAJOR PIPELINE—POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: The developers of a $5 billion natural gas pipeline that will cross through New York on its way to New England filed an official application for its construction with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Friday. The Northeast Energy Direct pipeline will connect the booming fracking fields of Pennsylvania to the New England energy market, where governors have called for more natural gas capacity for years. The pipeline is necessary to meet winter heating demand from power generators, said Kimberly Watson, president of the Kinder Morgan East Region Natural Gas Pipelines, the project developer.

PSEG: MORE EXCESS POWER ON LI — Newsday’s Mark Harrington: “Long Island has even more excess power than previously projected, enough to forestall the need for a big new generating plant until 2028, according to an updated analysis by PSEG Long Island. The new projection is up to four years longer than previously estimated, PSEG said, and gives the utility greater flexibility as it works to plan for the Island's energy needs. PSEG last year found that the Island had enough excess power to push back the need for a big new plant until at least 2024. It could result in hundreds of millions of dollars in "avoided costs" if traditional ways of meeting power needs can be delayed or replaced by less expensive, greener ones, according to PSEG Long Island president and chief operating officer David Daly.”

DE BLASIO TO HOST CLIMATE TELE-TOWN HALL — POLITICO’s David Giambusso: Mayor Bill de Blasio in will participate a "tele-town hall" on climate and sustainability efforts on December 1, to mark the first week of UN climate talks in Paris. The live teleconference is being hosted by the Working Families Party and the mayor, along with his sustainability director, Nilda Mesa, will take questions from callers on a range of topics under the rather large umbrella of preparing the city for climate change. De Blasio faced criticism from some environmentalists during his first few months in office for not staking out climate policies in the vein of his predecessor, Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Since then though he has put forth several ambitious goals to both prepare the city for rising sea levels and severe storms and cut the city's emissions.

THE MAN BEHIND REV—Vox’s David Roberts: “New York is in the midst of a comprehensive, wildly ambitious plan to reform its energy systems, aiming to make them more resilient, cleaner, and more affordable. By 2030, the state aims to reduce its carbon emissions by 40 percent (from 1990 levels) and draw 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. Behind those broad goals is an enormous range of programs, primarily focused on electricity, from research to financing to utility reform. Under the state's Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) program, its electric utilities will be restructured to allow for more market competition and more distributed energy resources like rooftop solar panels, batteries, and home energy management systems. The man charged with administering this sprawling effort is Richard Kauffman, New York's first ‘energy czar,’ or rather, chair of energy and finance for New York. Kauffman was a partner at Goldman Sachs and head of a renewable energy investment firm before he became a senior adviser to Energy Secretary Steven Chu during Obama's first term. That's where New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo found him.”

ADAM SKELOS WANTED CONTROL OF ENVIRONMENTAL COMPANY—The New York Times’ Susanne Craig: “Adam Skelos, the son of former State Senate Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos, had already gotten work as a government relations consultant at an environmental technology company, AbTech Industries. He got the job, prosecutors have said, because of pressure his father put on a major Manhattan developer, Glenwood Management, which had an interest in AbTech, and which also got him an unrelated $20,000 insurance commission. Now Mr. Skelos, 33, wanted the developer to do more. At a lunch last year with a Glenwood executive, Mr. Skelos asked for help removing AbTech’s founder and chief executive, Glenn R. Rink, from the board of the company’s publicly traded parent — clearing the way for Adam to take over. He told the executive, Charles C. Dorego, he was confident that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo would lift a state moratorium on fracking, a controversial method of extracting natural gas from the ground. Such a move would be a financial boon to the company.”


--De Blasio and Bloomberg make nice during a ceremony commemorating the planting of 1 million new trees in NYC since 2007. Giambusso reports.

--Columbia committee pans divestment: Columbia's Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing has recommended against fossil fuel divestment, according to a report published on Tuesday. POLITICO's Conor Skelding reports.

--New York utilities are using drones to inspect power lines.

--The state has approved the sale of streetlights to local municipalities so that they can be converted to more efficient LED lights.

--Natural Gas Now gives the industry perspective on the pipeline battles raging across New York.

--City & State looks at the issues around the FitzPatrick nuclear plant closing.

HAPPY MONDAY: This newsletter is for you so let us know if you have tips, story ideas or life advice. We're always here at and And if you like this letter, please tell a friend and/or loved one. Here’s a handy sign-up link:

STRONG SOLAR FUNDING DESPITE MARKET CARNAGE—Greentech Media’s Eric Wesoff: “Despite solar stocks plummeting in a "bizarre confluence of contradictory events," low-cost capital, DOE funding and VC are pouring into the market. Here's a roundup of some recent solar funding events. Sunnova Energy secured approximately $300 million in debt and equity funding for its residential solar energy business last month. When you're in the top 10 in a residential solar finance field that includes SolarCity, Sungevity, SunPower, Sunrun and Vivint, it's possible for a significant player like Sunnova to get drowned out by the other news, noise and hype. The transaction includes a conduit facility arranged by Credit Suisse, and an equity financing round led by Triangle Peak Partners.”

GRID EXERCISE TESTS RESPONSE—EnergyWire’s Behr: “A simulated widespread enemy attack on the North American electric power network this week created a disaster scenario, challenging grid operators to repel coordinated cyber intrusions and assaults on grid installations by heavily armed terrorist squads and rogue drones. Under this practice scenario meant to point to any major vulnerabilities, millions of Americans were facing long-term power outages in a nationwide crisis. "It breaks the system pretty severely," said Gerry Cauley, president and chief executive of the North American Electric Reliability Corp., which designed and ran the GridEx III exercise. Some 350 utilities, government agencies and other organizations, and an estimated 10,000 participants were engaged Wednesday in the non-public training exercise, playing out the "war game" scenarios on secured Internet channels. A second exercise required industry chief executives and federal agency leaders to arrange transfers of massive spare grid transformers around the country to replace units destroyed in the "attacks.”

SANDERS: ‘TO HELL WITH FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY’ — The Hill: “Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Saturday called for Republicans to abandon the corrupting influence of the Koch brothers and other wealthy energy magnates. 'This is a party that rejects science and refuses to understand that climate change is real,' he said of GOP during the annual Blue Jamboree in North Charleston, S.C. 'I understand if you stand up to the Koch brothers and the fossil fuel industry, that you’ll lose your campaign contributions,' the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate added. '[Climate change] is already causing devastating problems all over this world. To hell with the fossil fuel industry. Worry more about your children and your grandchildren than your campaign contributions.' Sanders linked wealthy energy interests with overall corporate power, arguing that Wall Street must improve society.”

DESPITE BUST, TEXAS PREPARES STUDENTS FOR OIL INDUSTRY JOBS—The Associated Press’ Will Weissert: “The oil industry is mired in its latest bust, with thousands of jobs evaporating like flares flaming out over natural gas wells. But in Texas, education officials are preparing more young people for the oil patch, showing the state's unshakeable commitment to the energy sector despite the employment uncertainties. The Houston school district is planning to expand its Energy Institute High School to around 1,000 students by 2017 and inaugurate a new 110,000 square-foot, $37 million facility. The three-year-old institute is the nation's only high school fully specializing in oil and energy careers. In the oil-rich Permian Basin, two Midland high schools have begun "petroleum academies." And state officials have approved vocational classes in oil production, authorizing all schools districts across Texas to teach them.”

CHINA’S NUCLEAR PUSHBACK—The New York Times’ Chris Buckley: “Hubin is one of dozens of sites across the country where officials have plans ready, awaiting further approval, to build atomic reactors over the next decade — an ambitious program to expand the use of nuclear energy that Beijing considers essential to weaning the Chinese economy from its reliance on coal-fired plants, which churn out air pollution and carbon dioxide. Ask villagers here what they think of the proposed plant, though, and talk quickly turns to the Communist government’s dismal record of industrial accidents, as well as the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan. Residents in Hubin will be resettled to new homes a few miles away, but many said that they would still feel threatened living so close to a nuclear station.”

CANADA TO CUT EMISSIONS — The Wall Street Journal: “The government of oil-rich Alberta province in western Canada on Sunday pledged to phase out coal emissions by 2030, limit greenhouse gases from oil-sands production and implement an economy wide carbon tax. The province unveiled the long-awaited plan one day ahead of a meeting in Ottawa among Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, and the leaders of other Canadian provinces and territories to discuss environment policy. Mr. Trudeau has pledged to develop a framework for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions before a United Nations summit on Nov. 30. The plan comes at a challenging time for coal and oil producers in western Canada that are struggling to cope with low commodity prices.”

DRONE WATCH — The Associated Press: “U.S. utilities see great potential in the use of remote-controlled drones to do the often-dangerous work of inspecting power lines and transmission towers but strict regulations have so far slowed adoption of the technology. The remote-controlled devices make the work of linemen safer, more efficient and less expensive, according to the Electric Power Research Institute, which last month put on a three-day workshop to help nearly a dozen utilities choose the best machines for the job. Miniature helicopter-like drones, some equipped with cameras and other sensors, conducted demonstration inspections of transmission lines at a hydroelectric plant in the Catskill Mountains.”


--Oil picks up on decline in rigs: The Journal reports that rig counts declined boosting oil futures Friday.

“Light, sweet crude for December delivery, a contract that expired at settlement, lost 0.4% to $40.39 a barrel. Just before settlement, it briefly dipped to as low as $38.99, the lowest price since August. The more active January contract rose 0.4% to $41.90 a barrel.”

--Natural gas takes a dive: Prices fell sharply Friday with warm temperatures and abundant supply.

“Prices for the front-month December contract settled down 13.1 cents, or 5.8%, at $2.145 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The fall is the largest one-day percentage drop since prices fell to a three-year low in late October and comes on top of a 3% decline Thursday. Gas has lost 10% in total during its four-session losing streak.”

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