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POLITICO New York Energy: State investment in green initiatives; $200M for Brooklyn wind startup

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.

CUOMO PROPOSES MILLIONS FOR GREEN INITIATIVES — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: The state is poised to invest hundreds of millions of dollars more in environmental initiatives, according to a series of proposals outlined by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday. In his State of the State address next week, Cuomo will propose increasing the Environmental Protection Fund from $177 million to $300 million. http://politi.co/1VGPglF

BROOKLYN WIND STARTUP SECURES $200 MILLION — Reuters: “United Wind Inc., which has carved out a niche leasing wind turbines to farms and rural homes, has clinched $200 million in funding from Toronto-based Forum Equity Partners — the largest-ever single investment in small wind projects. The funding is a vote of confidence not only in the Brooklyn, New York-based startup, but in the nascent market for wind energy that is both produced and used on site.” http://reut.rs/1S2VVre

AROUND NEW YORK:

--The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is extending the public comment period on the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline. http://bit.ly/1O9yGWy

--Innovation Trail looks at the positive and negative developments in New York energy in the last year. http://bit.ly/1IPCGyV

--A South Korean energy company suddenly dropped its lawsuit against a Saratoga Springs biodiesel firm. http://bit.ly/1MRHbng

--An electrical cable fire blew a manhole cover into the air on a downtown Schenectady street on Tuesday. http://bit.ly/1R9ZLPb

--Marc Gerstman, former acting commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, has retired. http://politi.co/1Uvb5U5

--The Department of Environmental Conservation is proposing new rules for how conservation easements could potentially be changed or abandoned at the request of landowners. http://bit.ly/1S2ShxJ

--Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a bill promoting geothermal energy into law. http://bit.ly/1S2Tg10

—Green investment advice, in opinion for the New York Times by Tina Rosenberg: “If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to do your part against climate change, keep reading. Now you can — with your investments. You’d be following New York State’s example. At the Paris climate change talks last month, the state’s comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli, announced that the state’s Common Retirement Fund, for public employee pensions, will put $2 billion into a new investment fund created by Goldman Sachs that prioritizes companies with smaller carbon footprints.” http://nyti.ms/22JJGUt

GOOD WEDNESDAY 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

KEEPING FOSSIL FUELS IN THE GROUND — Vox’s David Roberts: “Late last year, [President] Obama rejected the [Keystone XL] pipeline entirely, saying: ‘ultimately, if we're gonna prevent large parts of this Earth from becoming not only inhospitable but uninhabitable in our lifetimes, we're gonna have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground rather than burn them and release more dangerous pollution into the sky. We're gonna have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground.’ That is no small thing for a president to say. But which fossil fuels? In some ways, Keystone was an easy test case — a project owned by a foreign company, built to ship foreign oil through the US, mostly for export. Going forward, most federal decisions about fossil fuels and the national interest will be much trickier.” http://bit.ly/1TCGRhQ

OKLAHOMA FRACKING COMPANY IGNORES STATE EARTHQUAKE CONCERNS — The Wall Street Journal’s Erin Ailworth: “A financially strapped Oklahoma oil company is defying the state regulator’s request that it shut down six wells used to dispose of wastewater, despite fears they may be contributing to earthquakes.” http://on.wsj.com/1S1WBNQ

--The number of earthquakes in Oklahoma rose 50 percent last year, easily surpassing the record number that hit the state in 2014. http://bit.ly/1S2T1CX

USING TECHNOLOGY TO KEEP CARBON EMISSIONS IN CHECK — NPR: “The Paris agreement to curb climate change calls for a dramatic shift away from fossil fuels and the greenhouse gasses they emit, especially carbon dioxide. Switching to renewable energy helps, but that won't happen fast enough to keep temperatures from rising to dangerous levels. That's why scientists and researchers all over the world also are working on new ways of keeping carbon out of the atmosphere. NPR's Jeff Brady, KQED's Lauren Sommer, Wyoming Public Radio's Stephanie Joyce and Inside Energy's Leigh Paterson tracked down a few examples of this in North America.” http://bit.ly/1Uv7sh2

CLIMATE CHANGE COULD CUT ELECTRICITY PRODUCTION — Reuters’ Chris Arsenault: “Climate change could lead to significant declines in electricity production in coming decades as water resources are disrupted, said a study published on Monday. Hydropower stations and thermoelectric plants, which depend on water to generate energy, together contribute about 98 percent of the world's electricity production, said the study published in the journal Nature Climate Change.” http://reut.rs/1PJGp22

CONSERVATIVE CASE FOR SOLAR — Opinion for The New York Times by Ben Ho: “To many skeptics, particularly on the right, the spectacular failure of the solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra in 2011, after receiving a $535 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy, demonstrated the industry’s shaky future and the danger of government efforts to subsidize it to success. Fast forward to today. Solar energy prices have continued to fall rapidly, twice as many Americans work in the solar industry as in coal mining, and last year one-third of new electricity generation came from solar power. Solar, long viewed through the lens of crony capitalism, has shown the ability to inject real market competition in energy distribution, one of the last monopolies in the energy sector, while improving the efficiency of the grid and putting more dollars in the pockets of middle-class Americans. Conservatives, in other words, need to take another look at solar.” http://nyti.ms/1Uvcdaq

OIL INDUSTRY BRACES FOR MORE GREEN ATTACKS — The Hill’s Timothy Cama: “The oil lobby is bracing for more attacks from environmentalists who helped block the Keystone XL pipeline, wary that the green groups, buoyed by the recent victory, are gearing up to target more pipeline and fossil fuel projects. American Petroleum Institute head Jack Gerard used his annual State of American Energy speech to condemn the tactics used against the oil and natural gas industry, using the Keystone fight as a prime example.” http://bit.ly/1S2TMMt

ANALYSIS: OIL SANDS’ HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT — Bloomberg’s Liam Denning: “When two executives announce an agreement to merge their companies, investors have to be careful that the mutual backslapping doesn't drown out the actual reasoning for the deal. The same applies to the mutual backstabbing attendant on hostile bids. Which brings us to Suncor Energy and its less-than-friendly offer for Canadian Oil Sands. Suncor spent Tuesday morning reiterating that its reluctant quarry faces disaster if investors don't tender their shares.” http://bloom.bg/1S2UKIx

OIL MAN TO BE LOUISIANA COASTAL CZAR — POLITICO’s Annie Snider: Louisiana Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards announced he will appoint oil and gas executive Johnny Bradberry to be his coastal czar. Bradberry, who is chief operating officer of TOPCOR Companies LLC, also served as secretary of Louisiana's Department of Transportation and Development under Democratic Gov. Kathleen Blanco. Edwards, a Democrat, announced today he will appoint Bradberry to be Executive Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Activities and chairman of the state's Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.

KOREAN NUCLEAR DEBATE: The New York Times’ Choe Sang-Hun explores the struggles of Yeongdeok, a coastal community that embraced a nuclear plant to combat its socioeconomic struggles. “The 399 mostly older people who made up the population of three villages agreed to give up their land and their centuries-old way of life to make room for something few other places wanted: a nuclear power plant. That act plunged the surrounding Yeongdeok County into a bitter debate over whether the plant would be a savior or a death knell. The clash also revealed the depth of despair in South Korea’s increasingly empty rural communities, as well as growing misgivings about the country’s heavy dependence on nuclear power.” http://nyti.ms/1S2VGwy

CARBON SINKS: Among the many methods being tested now for carbon capture, a new sudy out of the University of Cambridge suggests the oldest and simplest may be the most effective: good old fashioned plants. “The new study suggests that by upping forest cover from 12% to 30% of UK land over the next 35 years -- close to that of France and Germany, but still less than the European average -- and restoring 700,000 hectares of wet peatland, these habitats would act as a carbon 'sink': sucking in and storing carbon. This could be enough to meet government targets of 80% greenhouse gas reduction by 2050 for the farming industry. Agriculture currently produces around 10% of all the UK's damaging greenhouse gas emissions.” http://bit.ly/1TDAJpI

FUTURES:

--Oil craps out: Already struggling, oil futures hit a two-week low Tuesday due to continued oversupply.

“Light, sweet crude for February delivery fell 79 cents, or 2.1%, to $35.97 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, fell 80 cents, or 2.1%, to $36.42 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.” http://on.wsj.com/1S2SUYe

--Natural-gas prices retreated Tuesday on renewed concerns about weak demand and bulging stockpiles, Timothy Puko reports for the Wall Street Journal.

“Natural-gas futures have stabilized since a seven-session surge put them into a bull market a week ago. They have traded between $2.188/mmBtu and $2.387/mmBtu for five sessions, with Tuesday’s prices bouncing in the middle of that range.” http://on.wsj.com/1Z66gak

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