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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by Nuclear Matters: Upstate family vs. utility, still; De Blasio's climate call

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.

KRENZER FAMILY STILL FIGHTING UTILITY — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: For three years, the Krenzer family has fought a utility's plans to build a 12-acre electric substation and access roads in the middle of their farm outside Rochester. State agencies are divided over the plans. But the plans are moving forward, and this month, the Public Service Commision will host another hearing in Albany on Rochester Gas & Electric's proposal for the Krenzers' farm in the town of Chili. The substation is part of a larger $250 million plan by RG&E, a subsidiary of Spain's Iberdrola utility, to upgrade the electrical infrastructure around Rochester to improve reliability. There is no deadline for a final decision on the proposal, though RG&E has pushed for one by April.

DE BLASIO’S CLIMATE TELECONFERENCE — POLITICO’s David Giambusso: Mayor Bill de Blasio and the leaders of his sustainability and resiliency teams took questions Tuesday evening on the city's efforts and future plans to mitigate the impacts of climate change and prepare for the effects of global warming. During a teleconference hosted by the Working Families Party, the mayor and his team, who have laid out aggressive goals for emissions reductions during his tenure and beyond, covered mostly familiar ground.

FEDERAL HIGHWAY BILL SHOULD HELP GE IN SCHENECTADY — The Times Union’s Larry Rulison: “In what is good news for General Electric Co.’s operations in Schenectady, Congress has apparently reached a deal under the highway bill to reauthorize the U.S. Export-Import Bank for another five years. GE makes steam turbines and generators in Schenectady that are used in power plants across the world. It uses the Ex-Im Bank to help its customers with their financing. U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer said the funding for the Ex-Im Bank will be included in the bill when it is voted on later this week.”

** 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 **


--NYC will introduce 2,000 additional electric vehicles into its fleet, the de Blasio administration announced Tuesday.

--Got foam? The pro-foam container group “Go Foam” has rolled out a website with info on how to recycle foam even as Mayor Bill de Blasio fights for his foam ban in court.

--The state is increasing the public comment period for a mothballed coal-fired power plant in the Finger Lakes looking to refire with natural gas, which could delay its approval.

--Opponents of the Pilgrim pipeline are increasing their ranks.

--PennEast pipeline possibly put off: reports that the developers of the PennEast pipeline seem less bullish on their initial operation start time of 2018.

--Here’s one take on why New Yorkers should pay attention to the Paris climate talks.

--U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer has joined the growing chorus of lawmakers opposed to the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline.

--Columbia University’s journalism dean takes on Exxon after it criticized journalism students’ investigation of its climate change denial.

HAPPY WEDNESDAY: 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:


A PATH FOR CLIMATE CHANGE, BEYOND PARIS — The New York Times’ Justin Gillis: “The pledges that countries have signaled they will make in Paris over the next two weeks to cut emissions will inevitably fall short of what is needed to solve the problem of climate change. But many political leaders gathering there — including governors, mayors, and provincial cabinet secretaries — are pushing for more aggressive cuts. By the dozen, they are signing a voluntary agreement committing their jurisdictions to faster and deeper reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases than their national governments have promised. ‘We are not moving fast enough,’ Gov. Jerry Brown of California, who is helping to lead the effort, said in an interview. ‘We’ve got to do more.’ All of which raises a provocative question: What would a truly ambitious plan to tackle climate change look like?”

--Obama and Modi took different approaches in the lead-up to Paris, the Economic Times reports, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi [of India] and US President Barack Obama had debated the nuances of each other's role at the Paris summit on climate change on Monday and tried to reach a common position, but the two countries had different approaches in the run-up to the COP with Washington seeking more commitment from Delhi on capping greenhouse gas emissions in order to invest more in clean energy initiatives here. While environment minister Prakash Javadekar had publicly retorted to Secretary of State John Kerry's remarks describing them as 'unwarranted,' what's not widely known is the fact that some differences had cropped up at the Modi-Obama meet in New York in September, and later when the duo had a brief interaction in Turkey on the sidelines of the G-20 meet last month. People familiar with developments described the differences as different approaches of the sides on the issue of combating climate change and ensuring development at the same time.”

--Here’s the Times’ Day Two round-up:

--”Imam Ibrahim Saidy brought his symposiums and his monthly fasting to the Paris climate talks, hoping to call attention to the problems and injustice of global warming. He calls it "green jihad." ... Saidy is part of a growing interfaith religious movement seeking action by governments to fight global warming. For the past two years, about 10,000 religious activists have been fasting on the first day of the month to call attention to global warming, according to Caroline Bader of the Lutheran World Federation.”

--Meanwhile, back home, “Congress voted to block EPA carbon rules for power plants Tuesday, dealing a symbolic blow to President Barack Obama's climate change agenda just as he returns from a landmark summit in Paris. While the move will not stop the regulations at the heart of Obama's pledge to drastically cut U.S. emissions, Republicans hope they can show other world leaders that the president's successor may be unwilling to follow through on that commitment.” POLITICO’s Darren Goode reports.

SOLAR AND WIND STABILIZING TEXAS GRID — Dallas Morning News’ James Osborne: “Fears that Texas might not have enough electricity in the years ahead have all but been extinguished by a flood of new gas turbines and solar and wind farms, the state’s grid operator said Tuesday. In a report examining the grid’s power supply and consumer demand over the next decade, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas said its reserve margin — the percentage of electricity available above what is used — will exceed 20 percent by 2017. The current minimum reserve level is 13.75 percent, a standard ERCOT estimated it would not meet in 2014. One of the principal drivers is a sudden boom in solar energy development in West Texas. Only expected to account for 102 megawatts next year — on a grid with a capacity of more than 79,000 megawatts — solar should account for almost 1,600 megawatts by 2017, ERCOT said.”

COAL COUNTRY NOT SURVIVING — Associated Press’ Jonathan Fahey: “Coal is barely surviving in coal country — and coal is about the only thing that Central Appalachia has. West Virginia is the only state in the country where more than half of adults are not working, according to the Census Bureau. It is tied with Kentucky for the highest percentage of residents collecting disability payments from Social Security, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. And the death rate among working-age adults is highest in the nation, 55 percent higher the national average, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And now the one main source for decent-paying work, the brutal life of coal, seems to be drying up for good. The thick, easy, cheap coal is gone, global competition is fierce, and clean air and water regulations are increasing costs and cutting into demand.”

KERRY: WHAT DID EXXON KNOW? — POLITICO’s Elana Schor: “Secretary of State John Kerry endorsed green activists' push for a federal investigation into whether Exxon deliberately misrepresented its own internal climate science research in an interview published [Tuesday]. Kerry echoed the spirit of the so-called ‘Exxon Knew’ campaign, which has drawn support from Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, by likening the oil giant's activities to the tobacco industry's communications about the risks of its product. ’It's tobacco — it's R.J. Reynolds all over again,’ Kerry told Rolling Stone, postulating that the company ‘stands potentially to lose billions of dollars in what I would imagine would be one of the largest class-action lawsuits in history.’”

--Here’s the full Rolling Stone interview:

JURY STRUGGLES IN MASSEY MINE CASE — The Wall Street Journal: “A jury failed to reach a verdict Tuesday on its eighth day of deliberations in the criminal trial of former Massey Energy Chief Executive Don Blankenship, after receiving further instructions from a federal judge intended to loosen an apparent deadlock. The eight women and four men on the jury, who were handed the case two weeks ago, are expected to resume their efforts Wednesday morning ... Mr. Blankenship, 65 years old, faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted on three felony counts that he led a conspiracy to violate safety laws at the coal company and then lied to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and to investors by saying the company didn’t condone such violations. The case grew out of the government’s investigation into the explosion at Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine in Raleigh County, W.Va., in 2010, in which 29 miners were killed. It was the worst U.S. mining disaster in four decades.”

GERMAN WIND FARMS BOOMING — BLOOMBERG’s Jesper Starn and Weixin Zha: “Germany’s wind farms are now producing so much electricity one of its grid managers is paying generators in neighboring Denmark to shut down to keep its network from overloading. German network operator TenneT TSO GmbH paid Danish power producers to withhold 37 gigawatt-hours of output in November, or about a day of production from the region’s biggest nuclear reactor, according to data from the Nord Pool Spot AS exchange in Oslo. The increase from 1.5 gigawatt-hours a year ago came as TenneT began from 2015 to boost payments to Danish producers via its neighboring grid to avoid cutting German output.”


--Gasoline surges: The Wall Street Journal reports gasoline futures jumped based on new ethanol requirements announced by the EPA.

“While front-month gasoline was nearly unchanged, the January contract gained 5.61 cents, or 4.3%, from the prior session to settle at $1.363 a gallon. December futures expired Monday. Diesel futures for January also jumped, up 1.48 cents, or 1.1%, to settle at $1.369 a gallon. Both outpaced U.S. and global crude.”

--Oil was relatively unchanged: From the same report

“Light, sweet crude for January delivery gained 20 cents, or 0.5%, to $41.85 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, fell 17 cents, or 0.4%, to $44.44 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe. Brent is down for four straight sessions, losing 3.7% in that span.”

** 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 **

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