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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by Nuclear Matters: NYC asks for more transmission lines; Schneiderman looks at energy contracts

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 newyork@politicopro.com 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.

NYC ASKS FOR MORE HUDSON VALLEY TRANSMISSION LINES—POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: New York City officials are asking the state Public Service Commission to approve more transmission lines to bring additional upstate power sources to meet the city’s power needs. In September, the PSC determined that more power lines were needed in the Hudson Valley. The state found that new transmission lines would reduce costs, improve market competition, enhance reliability, aid an increase in renewable resources and increase the diversity of fuel used in power generation. Transmission congestion has led to price spikes and reliability issues in New York City, attorneys Amanda De Vito Trinsey and Kevin Lang wrote in a filing with the PSC. They asked for additional transmission lines to bring more upstate power online. http://politi.co/1IiBF1x

AG SCRUTINIZING ENERGY PERFORMANCE CONTRACTS—Albany Times Union’s Matt Hamilton: “Members of the state attorney general's office have inquired about municipal energy projects in Rensselaer County in the wake of an investigation of a Warren County cogeneration plant project that could have resulted in criminal charges had prosecutors decided to go that route. Rensselaer County officials took part in a recent "fact-finding" meeting with members of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's Taxpayer Protection Bureau to address questions about the county's use of "energy performance contracts," a specialized development tool that allows municipalities to make shortcuts in the usual procurement process. Rensselaer County has approved $56 million in EPC projects with Siemens Building Technologies, an arm of the German engineering giant Siemens. The attorney general's office declined to discuss the scope of the inquiry, though county officials were left with the impression it was statewide.” http://bit.ly/1loYg27

HULK LIKE CUOMO, STILL: Environmental activist and Hulk portrayer Mark Ruffalo writes this op-ed in the Albany Times Union with fellow activist Julia Walsh praising Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recent moves on clean energy. The two then chide President Obama and California Gov. Jerry Brown for not doing enough.

“President Barack Obama talks a good game — and did the right thing on the Keystone XL pipeline — but he has also opened up unparalleled swaths of public land to new oil and gas drilling and fracking, and approved offshore drilling and arctic drilling. California Gov. Jerry Brown won't stop drilling and fracking even after the contamination of numerous groundwater aquifers. He even asked state officials to investigate oil drilling potential on his personal land. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley approved fracking as he left office last year, although thankfully the state legislature reversed his decision following New York's lead.” http://bit.ly/1Nhy5kf

** A Message from Nuclear Matters: Providing more than 61 percent of New York’s carbon-free electricity, nuclear energy plants play a vital role in achieving our clean-energy and carbon-reduction goals. New York’s nuclear energy fleet supports about 18,000 jobs and provides $2.5 billion to the state’s GDP. Learn more at NuclearMatters.com. **

AROUND NEW YORK:

--PSEG L.I. will send text and email alerts to customers when their utility bills are ready, Newsday’s Mark Harrington reports. http://nwsdy.li/1Nhykfh

--Environmental activists held a climate summit in Albany over the weekend. http://bit.ly/1Nke4xU

--Anti-nuclear activists don’t want Gov. Andrew Cuomo to cut a deal that would keep FitzPatrick nuclear facility open while closing Indian Point. http://bit.ly/1MOArtJ

HAPPY POST-THANKSGIVING MONDAY: Let us know anytime if you have tips, story ideas or life advice. We're always here at dgiambusso@politico.com and swaldman@politico.com. And if you like this letter, please tell a friend and/or loved one. Here’s a handy sign-up link: politi.co/1UqoEoB

WHAT’S AT STAKE IN THE PARIS CLIMATE TALKS—The New York Times’ Coral Davenport: “President Obama and more than 100 world leaders will convene with thousands of diplomats on Monday on the outskirts of Paris to open two weeks of intense negotiations aimed at forging an accord that could begin to avert the most devastating effects of global warming and redefine the economy of the 21st century. Here is a guide to what is at stake. If the talks fail — as they did in two previous attempts to achieve such a deal — then nations will continue on a trajectory that scientists say locks the planet into a future of rising sea levels, more frequent floods, worsening droughts, food and water shortages, destructive hurricanes and other catastrophic events. Recent scientific reports have concluded that the first effects of human-caused climate change have already started to sweep across the Earth, from rising sea levels flooding Miami to savage heat waves in Australia. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration projects that 2015 will be the hottest global year on record, beating the record set in 2014.” http://nyti.ms/1XBQUEu

GATES TO UNVEIL CLEAN ENERGY PARTNERSHIP—ClimateWire’s Lisa Friedman: “Technology giant Bill Gates will unveil the world's largest clean energy research and development partnership on Monday, joining in Paris with other billionaires and world leaders, several sources told ClimateWire. The multibillion-dollar announcement will come at the opening day of landmark U.N. climate change negotiations in the French capital, and is expected to inject significant momentum to the talks. According to government and business officials knowledgeable about the announcement, a group of developing and developed countries -- including the United States and India -- will agree to double their research and development budgets for clean energy and form a coalition to conduct joint work. Gates and other billionaires, meanwhile, will pledge a pool of money to assist the cooperative projects. The exact spending amount was unclear yesterday, but one source put it in the billions of dollars.” http://bit.ly/1Rb96oF

EUROPEAN AND AMERICAN CLIMATE VIEWS DIFFER—POLITICO’s Sara Stefanini and Andrew Restuccia: “Europeans and Americans desperately want to leave the Paris climate summit with a deal that erases six years of bad memories. Back in 2009, the European Union left the flawed Copenhagen summit humiliated while the U.S. rammed through a deal that fell far short of expectations. Top negotiators in Washington and Brussels have spent the years since then trying to understand what went wrong and how to avoid a repeat. The result is that the two sides head into the COP21 meeting Monday more aware of each other’s priorities and red lines, and deeply invested in reaching an agreement. U.S. President Barack Obama wants to burnish his climate legacy before he leaves office, while the Europeans want an ambitious worldwide deal that doesn’t leave the Continent’s businesses saddled with uncompetitive environmental rules.” http://politi.co/1OjCHeZ

CHINA’S DIRE CLIMATE WARNING—The New York Times’ Chris Buckley: “Rising seas besieging China’s economically vital coastal zones. Mighty feats of infrastructure, like the Three Gorges Dam and railway in Tibet, strained by turbulent rainfall and the melting of frozen earth. And on the Himalayan frontiers, the risk in future decades of international conflict over dwindling water supplies as glaciers retreat. These and other somber situations are laid out in the Chinese government’s latest scientific assessment of global warming, released just before negotiations in Paris for a new international agreement on climate change. “There’s deepening awareness of the gravity of the problems,” Zhang Haibin, a professor at Peking University who was among some 550 experts who prepared the report, said in an interview. He noted a shift since the first such assessment was issued nine years ago. “From the first to the second to this third report, the negative impacts of climate change on China are increasingly apparent.” http://nyti.ms/1NWMXVS

TWO DEGREES OR NOT TWO DEGREES — The Wall Street Journal: “The single most important benchmark underpinning this week’s talks in Paris on climate change—two degrees Celsius—has guided climate-treaty discussions for decades, but scientists are at odds on the relevance of that target. Many researchers have argued that a rise in the planet’s average global air temperature of two degrees or more above preindustrial levels would usher in catastrophic climate change. But many others, while convinced the planet is warming, say two degrees is a somewhat arbitrary threshold based on tenuous research, and therefore an impractical spur to policy action. 'It emerged from a political agenda, not a scientific analysis,” said Mark Maslin, professor of climatology at University College London. 'It’s not a sensible, rational target because the models give you a range of possibilities, not a single answer.' Policy makers tend to assume the two-degree target expresses a solid scientific view, but it doesn’t. The exhaustive reports published by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are considered to be the most comprehensive analysis of the science of global warming. Yet the two-degree limit isn’t mentioned in a single IPCC report.” http://on.wsj.com/1Nhz5Vt

OIL TRAIN CONCERNS COULD THREATEN MERGER—McClatchy’s Curtis Tate: “Concerns about the safety of crude oil trains loom over a proposed rail takeover that would create the largest rail system in North America. Last week, Alberta-based Canadian Pacific made public its plan to acquire Virginia-based Norfolk Southern. The $28.4 billion deal would need to be approved by company shareholders and federal regulators, a process that could take at least 18 months. The railroads are key players in the transportation of crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken shale region to East Coast refineries. Currently, Canadian Pacific transfers the shipments to Norfolk Southern at Chicago. The combined company could offer a seamless path the entire distance to the East Coast. Though both companies have so far escaped the most serious crude by rail incidents involving spills, fires and mass evacuations, they are likely to face fresh scrutiny of their safety practices and relationships with communities if they agree to a deal.” http://bit.ly/1Tm5gIF

SAUDI ARABIA KEEPS PUMPING — The Wall Street Journal: “Pressure is building on Saudi Arabia to rein in its oil output after a year of pumping full tilt, setting up the most contentious OPEC meeting in years. A year ago, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries surprised markets with a Saudi-led strategy of keeping output high to win market share and squeeze presumably weaker rivals in the U.S. and elsewhere out of the market. But with those rivals proving resilient and prices falling to new lows, members including Iran have decided the effort was a failure and are preparing to press Saudi Arabia directly to pull back on production at the group’s meeting this week. Discontent is even building inside Saudi Arabia over the strategy. Still, the oil-rich kingdom isn’t likely to relent—in part because it is wary of rising Iranian output as sanctions are lifted. The result is likely to be a continued standoff that keeps the market glutted and prices weak.” http://on.wsj.com/1Nhyzac

FUTURES:

--Oil dropped Friday on pessimism about oversupply, the Journal reports.

“January crude closed down $1.33, or 3.1%, to $41.71 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, fell 60 cents, or 1.3%, to $44.86 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.” http://on.wsj.com/1NhyK5h

--Natural gas falls on mild weather, the Journal reports.

“Prices for January settled down 8.7 cents, or 3.8%, at $2.212 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The recent price is slightly higher than the $2.206/mmBtu that the December contract settled at when it expired Wednesday, the last session before the Thanksgiving holiday.” http://on.wsj.com/1Nhzh7b

** A Message from Nuclear Matters: Some of America’s existing nuclear energy plants face early closure due to current economic and policy conditions. Providing more than 62% of America’s carbon-free electricity, existing, state-of-the-art nuclear energy plants play a vital role in achieving our clean-energy and carbon-reduction goals.

In New York, nuclear energy plants provide 31 percent of the state’s electricity and 61 percent of our carbon-free electricity. The existing nuclear energy plants in New York also support about 18,000 jobs and provide $2.5 billion to the state’s GDP.

If we want to keep New York working, we need policies that will keep New York’s state-of-the-art nuclear energy plants working for all of us. Join us at NuclearMatters.com **

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