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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by Nuclear Matters: Water probe company hires top lobbying firm; Con Ed's new outfit

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.

COMPANY AT CENTER OF TAINTED WATER PROBE HIRES LOBBYING FIRM — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: The company whose factory regulators worry may have tainted the water supply of the village of Hoosick Falls has hired a top lobbying firm, as it braces for federal and state investigations and the possibility of enormous cleanup and legal costs. Saint-Gobain — the French company that for decades has made Teflon-coated materials at a plant in the village — has retained Cozen O’Connor, which has offices in Albany, New York City and Washington, D.C. Kenneth Fisher, a former New York City councilman, and Stuart Shorenstein are working with the France-based company. The company paid Cozen O’Connor $160,000 for lobbying in 2015, according to OpenSecrets.org. The firm's lobbyists have already begun outreach to federal elected officials in the state. http://politi.co/1nwZp9n

CON ED’S GOT A BRAND NEW BAG — POLITICO New York’s David Giambusso: Con Edison surprised many in the energy world when it issued a brief announcement Monday evening that it would be forming a new company dedicated to building transmission projects throughout the country. The news came in a four paragraph release announcing Consolidated Edison Inc., the parent company of New York's biggest utility, would be creating a subsidiary corporation called Con Edison Transmission, or CET. It will be headed by current senior vice president of corporate shared services, http://politi.co/1PixTXv

** 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:

--NYSERDA still doesn’t know what it wants to do with a building in a Saratoga County tech park after questions were raised about its transfer months ago. http://bit.ly/1nNtBgs

--Five years in, the Green Jobs program has actually resulted in very few jobs. http://bit.ly/1KD7C0u

--Green party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins was arrested alongside protesters at a proposed gas storage facility in the Finger Lakes on Tuesday morning. http://politi.co/23rB2KI

--Robert Kennedy Jr. is pleased with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s climate shift and new energy policies. http://bit.ly/1VoCpnz

--Buffalo schools are training students for the jobs of tomorrow, including SolarCity. http://bit.ly/1PioCi7

--County officials and Department of Environmental Conservation officials are at odds over possible pollution from a coal ash pond at the Cayuga coal plant. http://bit.ly/1WMPZCh

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

OPPOSING ETHANOL IN IOWA: Grist’s Nathanael Johnson: “Many Iowans are mulling the same problem. A fortnight before the caucuses, Ted Cruz seemed to be leading the crowded Republican field in Iowa, and heading into the caucuses he is neck-and-neck with national favorite Donald Trump. That’s surprising because Cruz has championed the slaying of one of Iowa’s sacred cows: the Renewable Fuel Standard, which Congress passed in 2005. The RFS required renewable fuels to replace a percentage of fossil fuels used for cars, airplanes, and heating. That amount has increased over time and currently stands at just over 10 percent.” http://bit.ly/1nN6BOq

GREEN GROUPS CHEER DEMAND RESPONSE RULING — The Washington Post’s Chris Mooney: “Environmental groups are cheering over the Supreme Court’s Monday ruling in the obscure yet deeply consequential case Federal Energy Regulatory Commission vs. Electric Power Supply Association, in which a 6-2 court decision blessed 'demand response'— the idea that big companies (and maybe, someday, aggregated groups of individuals) can get paid for using less electricity at key times when it eases pressure on the grid. Demand response is as important as it is difficult to understand. And that’s why the Supreme Court’s majority opinion, written by Justice Elena Kagan, is a marvel. People should read it for something bordering on electrical literacy — a rarity these days, understandably but also unfortunately.” http://wapo.st/1ONwzdt

CHEAP OIL IS FIRST BIG CHALLENGE FOR CLIMATE CONFERENCE — The New York Times’ Diane Cardwell and Clifford Krauss: “Barely a month after world leaders signed a sweeping agreement to reduce carbon emissions, the global commitment to renewable energy sources faces its first big test as the price of oil collapses. Buoyed by low gas prices, Americans are largely eschewing electric cars in favor of lower-mileage trucks and sport utility vehicles. Yet the Obama administration has shown no signs of backing off its requirement that automakers nearly double the fuel economy of their vehicles by 2025.” http://nyti.ms/1KDdIxU

STATES ASK SUPREME COURT TO BLOCK OBAMA EMISSIONS PLAN — Reuters’ Lawrence Hurley: “A group of U.S. states led by coal producer West Virginia and oil producer Texas on Tuesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to put a hold on President Barack Obama's plan to curb carbon dioxide emissions from power plants to combat climate change. The 26 states filed a stay application with U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts after an appeals court in Washington declined last week to block Obama's Clean Power Plan while litigation over its lawfulness goes ahead.” http://reut.rs/1PzPMgc

NOBLE CUTS BACK — Bloomberg: “Noble Energy Inc. said it will cut spending and investor payouts to save cash as oil has slumped about 70 percent since mid-2014. The Houston-based producer is reducing its capital spending program 50 percent for 2016 to $1.5 billion, according to a statement Tuesday. Its quarterly cash dividend will be reduced by 8 cents to 10 cents per common share.” http://bloom.bg/1PiyRTz

THE BEST STATES FOR SOLAR: The group Free the Grid amassed a scorecard of the best and worst states in which to install solar on a rooftop. The group measured costs and benefits and found New York and New Jersey both get A’s. Sunny Texas gets an F. http://bit.ly/1Piz8ps

EXXON: CHINA DEMAND CLOSE TO PEAKING — Fortune’s Claire Groden: “China’s economic boom buttressed global oil prices for the past decade. Now, as the country’s economy slows, forecasters say that it will no longer serve the same role. In a new energy outlook report released Monday, Exxon lowered its forecast for China’s annual energy demand growth to 2.2% through 2025. The report predicted that the country’s energy demand would plateau around 2030, resulting in an annual energy demand growth between 2025 and 2040 of only .2%.” http://for.tn/1PiziNG

MARKET GAINS ON OIL RALLY — The Wall Street Journal: “A rally in oil prices and a clutch of better-than-expected earnings reports gave a lift to stocks Tuesday, as investors looked past another steep fall in Chinese shares. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 282.01, or 1.8%, to 16167.23. The S&P 500 gained 26.55, or 1.4%, to 1903.63, while the Nasdaq Composite added 49.18, or 1.1%, to 4567.67.”

FUTURES:

--Oil rallies: Investors think maybe the oil industry will cut production which boosted futures prices Tuesday. Nicole Friedman of the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Light, sweet crude for March delivery settled up $1.11, or 3.7%, at $31.45 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, gained $1.30, or 4.3%, to $31.80 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe. Both are up in the last three of four sessions, with Nymex oil rising more than 18% over that span.” http://on.wsj.com/1Pizzjw

--As does natural gas: Forecasts of colder weather boosted natural gas demand. As a point of personal privilege, we’d like to commend Ms. Friedman and Timothy Puko for use of the word “whipsaw” in their lead.

“Natural gas prices rose in whipsaw trading Tuesday with weather forecasts showing bursts of cold and potentially strong heating demand ultimately taking the market’s focus. Futures for February delivery settled up 2.29 cents, or 1%, at $2.18 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gas has gained in five-straight sessions, although only 4.3% during that span as trading has kept within about a 10-cent range for more than a week.” http://on.wsj.com/1PizM6p


** 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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