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POLITICO New York Energy: GE's $1B contract; newspaper decline forces Champlain adjustment

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

Good morning! Only POLITICO New York Pro subscribers receive an enhanced version of this email at 5:30 a.m. each weekday. If you'd like to receive it, 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. Thank you for reading.

GE WINS $1 BILLION CONTRACT—Albany Times Union’s Larry Rulison: “General Electric Co. has been awarded a nearly $1 billion contract to build a combined cycle power plant for the Saudi Electric Co., with much of the equipment to be manufactured in Schenectady, according to a GE spokesman. The Waad Al Shamal plant will be able to generate 1,390 megawatts of power, with 50 megawatts coming from a solar component, the spokesman said. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2018.”

DECLINE IN NEWSPAPERS HELPED CHAMPLAIN — POLITICO New York’s David Giambusso: The decline of the printed newspaper is partly responsible for more clean energy potentially powering New York City. "We used to be a big provider for years of newspapers, paper for newspapers," said Quebec energy minister Pierre Arcand in a recent interview with POLITICO New York. The paper mills of Quebec, fed by acres of forest and thousands of megawatts of hydropower, once supplied newsprint to the titans of U.S. journalism. "For example, Chicago Tribune, I think all the paper was coming from Quebec, and I think the New York Times as well, and some others," Arcand said. Within the last decade, though, newspaper circulation has suffered a steep decline and a resurgence in the printed product is nowhere on the industry's radar. "Now that everybody is using the iPad and other computers we need to revisit our industrial strategy," Arcand said. "Because paper mills were big energy users so now we have more energy available."


--The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority is extending incentives for solar power projects.

--The number of crude oil tankers streaming through Albany has declined amid the global oil glut.

--The Natural Gas Now blog asks why the state Department of Environmental Conservation has yet to approve the Constitution pipeline after about two years.

HAPPY 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:

JEB’S EVERGLADES FIGHT — The New Yorker’s Dexter Filkins: Jeb Bush, as governor of Florida, signed ambitious bipartisan legislation to restore the Everglades. Three years later, bowing to pressure from Big Sugar, Bush dismantled central tenets of the restoration even when the federal government threatened funding. Filkins writes, "What lingers in Florida is the memory of a governor who liked to announce ‘big, hairy, audacious goals’—often shortened to BHAG, pronounced 'bee-hag'—and to pursue them zealously. Much of the time, in a state with natural bipartisan coalitions, it worked. But when it didn’t Bush pushed on, even at the price of gruelling and expensive political conflict. Nowhere was his style more evident than in his protracted struggle with the federal government over the fate of the Everglades—a fight that, according to people in both parties, could well have been avoided with a less autocratic approach. Nathaniel Reed, an Assistant Secretary of the Interior in the Nixon Administration, a friend of President George H. W. Bush, and a prominent Florida environmental activist, told me, 'Jeb wouldn’t listen to anyone. He’s the most thin-skinned son of a bitch I’ve seen. If you criticize him, he never forgets it.'"

RENEWABLE BOOM FOR 2016—The Washington Post’s Joby Warrick: “Wind and solar power appear set for a record-breaking year in 2016 as a clean-energy construction boom gains momentum in spite of a global glut of cheap fossil fuels. Installations of wind turbines and solar panels soared in 2015 as utility companies went on a worldwide building binge, taking advantage of falling prices for clean technology as well as an improving regulatory and investment climate. Both industries have seen stock prices jump since Congress approved an extension of tax credits for renewables as part of last month’s $1.14 trillion budget deal.”

ENERGY INDUSTRY CAN’T SURVIVE $35 CRUDE—Bloomberg’s Dan Murtaugh: “In 2015, the fracking outfits that dot America’s oil-rich plains threw everything they had at $50-a-barrel crude. To cope with the 50 percent price plunge, they laid off thousands of roughnecks, focused their rigs on the biggest gushers only and used cutting-edge technology to squeeze all the oil they could out of every well. Those efforts, to the surprise of many observers, largely succeeded. As of this month, U.S. oil output remained within 4 percent of a 43-year high.

The problem? Oil’s no longer at $50. It now trades near $35.”

ENERGY MACHER ON HARD TIMES — The Wall Street Journal’s Ryan Dezember: “When oil dropped below $50 a barrel early last year, Diamondback Energy Inc. Chief Executive Travis Stice dialed Rob Santangelo’s cellphone. The energy executive was worried about carrying debt as oil prices fell and wanted to raise cash to pay it off by selling more stock. Diamondback’s shares had fallen by one-third over the preceding several months, and oil markets were in retreat. But Mr. Santangelo, a Credit Suisse Group AG banker who had shepherded several offerings of Diamondback’s shares, thought a sale could be done. It was a good call: Diamondback sold about $100 million worth of new stock in a couple of hours, a solid showing that pushed the value of the oil producer’s shares up 9% on the day. The deal’s success sparked a flurry of similar stock offerings and established Mr. Santangelo as the person to call when your oil company needs cash.”

ENERGY TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2016—Forbes’ Katie Fehrenbacher: “Low oil prices, a

retreat of the coal industry, solar and battery booms, and the return of nuclear are all trends you should watch next year. This year was a big one for energy news. Ultra-low oil prices, coal plant closures, a landmark climate change deal in Paris, and records set for global solar projects all signaled a continued massive transformation under way for the world’s energy infrastructure. Expect no less in 2016. These major energy trends will slowly continue to remake the world’s energy generation, consumption, efficiency, and carbon emissions. Change is often slow in the energy sector, but when it happens, it occurs in a truly massive way.”

GAS PRICES TO STAY LOW IN 2016—CNN Money’s Ahiza Garcia: “Drivers may pay even less at the pump in 2016. AAA, which compiles gas price information from around the country, is projecting that gas prices will stay lower in the year ahead — maybe even lower than this year. It estimates that the average price of a gallon of regular, unleaded gasoline would be between $2.25 and $2.45 a gallon. In 2015, the average price per gallon was $2.40 -- Americans saved $540 on gas as a result.”

UNCLEAN DIESEL—Opinion in the New York Times by Tara Grescoe: “Diesel pollution is not just unpleasant; it is also dangerous. The nitrogen oxides produced by diesel engines, which are far more popular in Europe than in the United States, are a potent irritant for asthma sufferers. Health officials in Italy also noted increased reports of cardiovascular disease this week. Diesel exhaust is laden with insidious soot particles, the so-called PM 2.5 (particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns, or one-thirtieth the width of a human hair), which allow carcinogens to penetrate deep into tissues and organs. In other words, a driver who steps on the accelerator of a diesel car may be filling the lungs of nearby pedestrians, cyclists, infants in strollers and other drivers with potentially deadly particulate matter.”

NO END IN SIGHT FOR LA METHANE LEAK — The Associated Press: “The escape of tons of natural gas from storage under a Los Angeles neighborhood is not likely to be fixed for at least another two months because of the specific dynamics of the leak, according to officials.

The leak at Porter Ranch, already several months old, has forced the relocation of several thousand residents who said the stench made them sick.”

RENEWABLE INDIA EMERGING—The New York Times’ Max Bearak: “About a quarter of the world’s off-the-grid people, or 300 million or so, live in India, mostly in remote, rural communities like Paradeshappanamatha, or in informal urban settlements. Hundreds of millions more get electricity for only a few hours a day. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pledged to achieve universal electrification in India by the end of 2022. His main effort is adding hundreds of new coal plants, which have contributed to near-apocalyptic pollution levels across large swaths of the country. On the other hand, Mr. Modi has also promised investments that would significantly increase production from renewable sources. Partly to that end, Mr. Modi and President François Hollande of France started an “International Solar Alliance” during the recent climate talks in Paris. With an initial pledge of $30 million from India, Mr. Modi said that the eventual goal was $1 trillion in global funding for solar technology development by 2030.”

CHINA TO HALT COAL — Bloomberg: “China will stop approving new coal mines for the next three years and continue to trim production capacity as the world’s biggest energy consumer tries to shift away from the fuel as it grapples with pollution. China will suspend the approval of new mines starting in 2016 and will cut coal’s share of its energy consumption to 62.6 percent next year, from 64.4 percent now, Xinhua News Agency reported Tuesday, citing National Energy Administration head Nur Bekri. It’s the first time the government has suspended the approval of new coal mines, according to Deng Shun, an analyst with ICIS China.”

8 TECH BREAKTHROUGHS (THAT COULD POWER THE WORLD) — National Geographic: “A car that drives itself. A watch that remotely turns lights on or off. A home that produces power for neighbors during a blackout. These three don’t belong to a Jetsons-like future. They’ve already arrived. They're part of a new tech era in which scientists and entrepreneurs are rapidly trying bold ideas to save energy or provide cleaner alternatives. Their discoveries could help countries meet the goals of this month’s historic UN climate accord, aimed at slashing greenhouse gas emissions. Yet they still need public acceptance, lawmakers’ approval, and enough funding to avoid innovation’s often-cited ‘valleys of death.’”

ANOTHER BAD YEAR FOR OIL — The Wall Street Journal’s Nicole Friedman: “Oil prices capped a second year as one of the worst-performing commodities, as a global glut of crude continued to weigh on the market. After plunging from more than $100 a barrel to nearly $50 a barrel last year, U.S. oil prices fell 30% in 2015 to $37.04 a barrel. Brent, the global benchmark, fell 35% to $37.28 a barrel. U.S. prices posted a second straight annual loss for the first time since 1998. Brent prices fell for a third straight year.”


--Oil fell again last week: The global glut continues, the Journal reports.

“Light, sweet crude for February delivery settled down $1.27, or 3.35%, at $36.60 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, declined $1.33, or 3.5%, to $36.46 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.”

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