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POLITICO New York Energy: Energy service company avoids fines; Indian Point investigation begins

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 newyork@politicopro.com and we'll set you up for trial access. Thank you for reading.

AMBIT PAYS REFUNDS, NOT PENALTIES — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: An energy service company accused of deceiving customers must issue some refunds under terms of a state deal, but will not face any other significant penalty. Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced about 1,500 customers of Ambit energy would receive nearly $1 million in refunds because it had deceived customers into believing they were saving money on monthly utility bills when they were actually paying significantly more. However, the state did not decertify Ambit for its actions or force it to make a larger financial settlement. http://politi.co/1MPPe49

INDIAN POINT INVESTIGATION — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: The Cuomo administration has begun its investigation of the Indian Point nuclear facility. Last month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered the state investigation after an electrical disturbance shut down the plant. Cuomo said repeated shutdowns were “intolerable” and supported his long-standing contention that the plant was at the end of its useful life and must be closed. He ordered the investigation to be completed by mid-February. http://politi.co/1OvTPxJ

QUEBEC MINISTER MAKES PITCH FOR CHAMPLAIN — POLITICO New York’s David Giambusso: Amid increased opposition and questions in New York over a 333-mile transmission line between Quebec and New York City, Quebec's energy minister Pierre Arcand says the Champlain Hudson Power Express project solves two crucial problems facing the state's energy portfolio. "What we offer is very simple," Arcand said in a recent interview with POLITICO New York. "We offer long term-reliability, predictability in prices, renewable sources of energy.". http://politi.co/1RmYfYy

AROUND NEW YORK:

--New York and New Jersey newsrooms are teaming up to investigate environmental contamination. http://bit.ly/1kGwE7Y

--The Newsday editorial board called on state lawmakers to increase the Environmental Protection Fund, and to introduce a bond measure to help fund environmental projects across the state. http://nwsdy.li/1PD04ih

--PSEG L.I. to issue some smart meters: Mark Harrington of Newsday reports the Long Island utility will give smart meters to some commercial customers. http://nwsdy.li/1OI8qYW

GOOD TUESDAY MORNING: 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

L.A. GAS LEAK DISRUPTING NEIGHBORHOODS AND BUSINESSES — The Los Angeles Times’ Tamara Audi: Ten weeks after an underground gas well ruptured, spewing methane into the air, “pressure is mounting on Southern California Gas Co. to intensify its response to the leak, which it says may not be plugged until late March. Some residents and activists are seeking greater political and national attention as the rupture disrupts lives and livelihoods. SoCalGas, a unit of Sempra Energy of San Diego, said it has relocated 2,157 households and is working to relocate 1,184 more. Some 190 families opted to stay with family or friends. SoCalGas is reimbursing small businesses and residents that install state-approved air filtration systems. California officials have been in Porter Ranch for weeks to coordinate response among local, federal and state agencies. http://on.wsj.com/1ZJL334

--LA Weekly quotes former workers at a natural gas storage field at Aliso Canyon from where the leak originated as saying it was improperly maintained. http://bit.ly/1VbEkMz

VOLKSWAGEN SLAPPED WITH SUIT — The Washington Post: “The Obama administration stepped up its legal attack against Volkswagen on Monday, filing a lawsuit that accused the German automaker of violating U.S. air-pollution laws with its scheme to install emissions-cheating software in its diesel engines. The civil complaint filed by Justice Department officials in Detroit seeks unspecified damages stemming from the car company’s use of “defeat devices” on more than 600,000 diesel engines sold in the United States under the Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche brands.” http://wapo.st/1OI8FmL

VICE: CLIMATE CHANGE COULD BRING BLACKOUTS, HIGHER PRICES: "Climate change could put at risk thousands of the world's power plants by the middle of the century, leading to outages and forcing countries to find alternative sources of energy, according to a study published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change." http://bit.ly/1O6t6nU

MCCARTHY: LOOK OUT 2016: EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy wrote in a blog on Huffington Post that the agency will have a big year in 2016, its last under President Obama. Among her priorities, McCarthy writes, “We will finalize a proposal to improve fuel economy and cut carbon pollution from heavy-duty vehicles, which could avoid a billion metric tons of carbon pollution and save 75 billion gallons of fuel by 2027. We'll also finalize rules to limit methane leaks from oil and gas operations -- which could avoid up to 400,000 metric tons of a climate pollutant 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide by 2025. Meanwhile, we're doubling the distance our cars go on a gallon of gas by 2025.” http://huff.to/1RmUMJC

JAPAN WEIGHS CARBON TRADING — Bloomberg: “Japan may consider introducing national-emissions trading as part of a set of measures it intends to put together by early next year to tackle climate change. The government will compile the climate change plan to fulfill its pledge to reduce emissions by 26 percent by 2030 from 2013 levels, according to a statement issued Tuesday. The pledge was made earlier this year to the United Nations. Two government panels — one set up by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and another by the Ministry of the Environment — will discuss the plan’s details, according to the statement.” http://bit.ly/1RmV2bw

BIG OIL TO MAKE MORE CUTS — Reuters: “With crude prices at 11-year lows, the world's biggest oil and gas producers are facing their longest period of investment cuts in decades, but are expected to borrow more to preserve the dividends demanded by investors. At around $37 a barrel, crude prices are well below the $60 firms such as Total (TOTF.PA), Statoil STO.OL and BP (BP.L) need to balance their books, a level that has already been sharply reduced over the past 18 months. International oil companies are once again being forced to cut spending, sell assets, shed jobs and delay projects as the oil slump shows no sign of recovery.” http://reut.rs/1RmVXsv

GOOGLE TO HELP CONSUMERS WEIGH SOLAR PANELS — Associated Press: “The company that lets you compare air fares and translate foreign languages online wants to make it easier to weigh the costs and benefits of installing solar panels on household rooftops.

Google is rolling out a new online service that quickly tallies up considerations of going solar and whether homeowners should consider buying or leasing photovoltaic panels costing thousands of dollars.” http://huff.to/1JqbG93

GREENLAND ICE SHEET MELTING FASTER — The Washington Post’s Chelsea Harvey: “Rising global temperatures may be affecting the Greenland ice sheet — and its contribution to sea-level rise — in more serious ways that scientists imagined, a new study finds. Recent changes to the island’s snow and ice cover appear to have affected its ability to store excess water, meaning more melting ice may be running off into the ocean than previously thought.” http://wapo.st/1IMY4oq

FUTURES:

--Oil fell again Monday on continued oversupply, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Light, sweet crude for February delivery fell 28 cents, or 0.8%, to $36.76 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, fell six cents, or 0.2%, to $37.22 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.” http://on.wsj.com/1OI8QP6

--Ditto natural gas: There’s just too much.

“Natural gas futures for February delivery settled down 0.3 cent, or 0.1%, at $2.334 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange.” http://on.wsj.com/1OI8Uyg

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