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POLITICO New York Energy: State spends to avert upstate closings; outage in Saratoga County

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

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NY SPENDING MILLIONS TO SAVE UPSTATE JOBS — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: Just weeks after Alcoa announced it would cut 500 jobs at its aluminum smelter in Massena, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and U.S. Sen. Schumer on Tuesday held a live-streamed press conference to tout their work on a $70 million state deal to keep the jobs in place until March 2019. The deal will provide Alcoa with $30 million in cheap power from the New York Power Authority and $40 million for capital and operating expenses. Alcoa faces a $40 million penalty if employment drops below 600 before March 2019. It was the second lifeline thrown to a major upstate employer in recent weeks. Earlier this month, Cuomo and Schumer announced a $50 million state-backed plan to save for at least five years three Kraft Heinz plants that employ 1,000 people and extended the life of another one by up to two years. Half the money will come from state coffers and the rest will come from Heinz.


--More than 30,000 National Grid customers were without power in Saratoga County on Tuesday.

--Advocates argue that the state Department of Health should step in to make sure consumers are aware of the saltiness of the water in Seneca Lake, where a large propane storage facility is proposed in former salt mines.

--Anti-nuclear groups held a news conference in Syracuse to argue that it's time to make the transition away from nuclear power and toward wind, solar and other renewable sources.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVE: For those of you still keeping up on the energy news, we’d like to wish you a happy and safe holiday. We will be taking the next few days off but will be back Monday. Let us know anytime 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:

CLEAN ENERGY TAX CREDIT GOES TO AFFLUENT — Vox’s David Roberts: “One of the main ways US policy encourages the uptake of new clean energy and energy efficiency technologies is through the use of tax credits. There are tax credits for qualified windows, boilers, air conditioners, insulation, and more. The US is something of an outlier in this. In the KPMG Green Tax Index — a ranking of countries according how much they use tax penalties and incentives to achieve sustainability goals — the US ranks number one. Notably, the US is 14th in the use of tax penalties. It is America's profligate use of tax incentives, mainly tax credits, that vaults it to number one overall. Some new research brings troubling news about those tax credits. To put it bluntly: They are highly inequitable. Most of the money goes to relatively affluent consumers.”

GERMANS OPEN NEW VW INQUIRY — The New York Times: “German prosecutors have opened another investigation into Volkswagen, this one focusing on whether the company broke tax laws by making false claims about its vehicles’ carbon dioxide emissions. Birgit Seel, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office in Braunschweig, a city near Volkswagen’s headquarters in Wolfsburg, said Tuesday the criminal investigation was focusing on five suspects, who under German law cannot be identified by name. Volkswagen admitted early in November that it had understated carbon dioxide output for about 800,000 diesel and gasoline vehicles sold in Europe. As a result, buyers of the vehicles may have received tax breaks to which they were not entitled.”

RENEWABLE DEVELOPERS WIN IN CANADA SHIFT — Bloomberg: “The race to find winners from Alberta’s low-carbon policies is on with analysts betting renewable energy developers such as Enbridge Inc. and TransCanada Corp. will be among the best placed to make the shift. Companies poised to gain will be those able to finance new wind and solar power projects, as the government boosts the province’s share of renewable electricity to 30 percent from 9 percent by 2030. TransAlta, meanwhile, surged 9.5 percent Monday as investors bracing for the worst were buoyed by Alberta’s pledge to compensate coal-power generators for phasing out their plants by 2030.”

KILLER WEATHER — The New York Times: “Weather-related disasters in the past two decades have killed more than 600,000 people and inflicted economic losses estimated at trillions of dollars, the United Nations said on Monday, warning that the frequency and impact of such events was set to rise. The figures were released before a United Nations-backed climate meeting,starting next Monday in Paris, at which more than 120 national leaders will try to rein in greenhouse gas emissions and slow the rise in global temperatures. According to the report from the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, the United States has had the highest number of weather-related disasters in the past two decades, but China and India have been the most severely affected, enduring floods that had an effect on billions of people. As well as killing hundreds of thousands, weather-related disasters affected 4.1 billion other people left wounded, displaced or in need of emergency assistance and inflicted economic costs well in excess of $1.9 trillion over the two decades, the report found.”

THE FRAGILE FRAMEWORK: published a graphic novel-style history of the 25-year lead up to the Paris climate talks.

VIDEOS OF ISIS OIL TRUCKS BLOWING UP — Business Insider’s Jeremy Bender: “The US military has released new videos showcasing the anti-ISIS coalition's latest airstrikes against ISIS oil trucks. The airstrikes, which were conducted on over the weekend in eastern Syria, destroyed 283 oil trucks belonging to the militant organization. According to the Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) responsible for anti-ISIS operations, the strikes are part of the broader Operation Tidal Wave II. The operation is aimed to completely shutter ISIS's production of oil in eastern Syria and its subsequent sale on the black market.”

NUCLEAR’S LAST STAND IN CALIFORNIA — San Francisco Chronicle’s David Baker: “California’s largest power plant churns out enough electricity for 1.7 million homes, yet pumps no greenhouse gases into the sky. Unlike the wind farms and solar plants spreading across the state, its output doesn’t vary hour by hour, day or night. It needs little land and less fuel. But the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, owned by Pacific Gas and Electric Co., is the last of its kind in the state. And in less than 10 years, it could close, ending nuclear power’s long history in California at the very moment that the state — determined to stop climate change — needs carbon-free electricity more than ever. The first of its two operating licenses from the federal government expires in 2024, the second a year later. Federal regulators are weighing whether to renew those licenses and keep Diablo humming through 2045. PG&E, however, appears to be having second thoughts.”

CHINA OUTSOURCING SOLAR — EnergyWire’s Coco Liu: “With the dominating role of Chinese factories in the global solar supply chain, the label "Made in China" has adorned the majority of solar panels installed in the world. But now, some Chinese solar manufacturers are out to get a different label. Xi'an LONGi Silicon Materials Corp., a solar producer based in central China, recently announced it will build a factory in India with an investment of about $222 million. If all goes as planned, the company says, the new plant will bring its overseas manufacturing capacity from zero to 500 megawatts. LONGi is the latest among a growing number of Chinese solar companies that have moved production abroad. According to estimates at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, overseas facilities are expected to make up nearly one-tenth of all China-owned solar manufacturing capacity by the end of this year.”


--Oil likes war: The downing of a Russian warplane by Turkey boosted oil prices Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“January crude closed $1.12, or 2.7%, higher to $42.87 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, rose 2.9% to $46.12 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe. Both contracts are at two-week highs.”

--Natural gas slides, on predictions of warm weather, the Journal reports.

“Futures for December delivery fell a penny, or 0.5%, to $2.20 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange.”

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