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POLITICO New York Energy: Entergy sues Cuomo administration; NYC bill mandates solar

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

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ENTERGY SUES CUOMO ADMINISTRATION, AGAIN — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: The operator of the Indian Point nuclear facility sued the state in federal court Thursday, accusing it of interfering with its operations and raising already-high tensions with the Cuomo administration. Entergy says the Department of State improperly rejected Indian Point’s application for a coastal zone certificate in November. In rejecting the application, state officials said the Westchester plant had damaged the Hudson River for decades and posed a safety risk to about 20 million people. But in their suit filed Thursday in the Northern District of New York, Entergy said safety considerations did not fall under the scope of the state’s coastal certification decision process. http://politi.co/1J5UV30

BILL WOULD MANDATE SOLAR ON NYC-OWNED BUILDINGS — POLITICO New York’s David Giambusso: A bill that would mandate solar installations on city-owned rooftops will get a hearing Friday before the City Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection. The bill (Intro. 478) is being sponsored by committee Chairman Costa Constantinides, along with 33 others, all but guaranteeing its passage in the Council. But the measure would require Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration to conduct a report assessing every city-owned building and its potential for solar. For those buildings wherein solar would be economically viable, it would require the city to install solar arrays. http://politi.co/1ZyBk2S

STATE INVESTIGATING UTILITY FOR ALLEGED RACIAL DISCRIMINATION — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: The state is investigating a Hudson Valley utility over allegations of racial discrimination and improperly shutting off electricity for low-income customers. Last week, the state Department of Public Service publicly filed a notice to Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation that it had started an investigation that required the utility to preserve relevant records including debt collection practices, shut-offs and records of communication between employees and the public. http://politi.co/2332rlK

SCHNEIDERMAN JOINS PIPELINE FIGHT — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office asked federal regulators on Thursday to deny a request by developers of the Constitution natural gas pipeline to begin clearing trees along its proposed 124-mile path through the Southern Tier and Schoharie Valley. Last week, the Williams Companies and other developers of the pipeline asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for permission to begin clearing trees in Broome, Chenango, Delaware and Schoharie counties, even though the state has not given final approval for the pipeline. Developers maintain the tree clearing does not mean it is beginning construction. Schneiderman’s office rejects that argument, claiming the tree clearing would essentially begin construction before the final permits from the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have been issued. http://politi.co/1Pewj4v

DE BLASIO BACKS HEATING BILL — POLITICO New York’s David Giambusso: A city housing official testified in support of a bill that would raise the minimum temperature for residential apartments at night during a hearing Thursday before the Committee for Housing and Buildings. Currently, buildings are required to keep the heat at 55 degrees, but the use of the minimum is tied to the outside temperature. This makes it difficult for inspectors to issue violations, said Vito Mustaciuolo, deputy commissioner for enforcement and neighborhood services at the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. The bill would make the minimum temperature mandatory between October and May, regardless of the temperature outside. http://politi.co/1ZyB5ov

AROUND NEW YORK:

--Con Ed dispute leaves city building without gas: News 12 reports, “The Northwest Bronx Clergy and Community Coalition held a rally Thursday in support of dozens of tenants living in a University Heights building without gas for more than a year. The building at 2200 Aqueduct Ave. has around 40 apartments rented to individuals or families." http://bit.ly/1n3XJnv

--Gasland filmmaker and anti-fracking activist Josh Fox is back with a new movie about climate change around the world. http://bit.ly/1Q8sLG4

--GE is transitioning 41 contract workers into full-time employees of its wind turbine division. http://bit.ly/1Sktbue

--Here are the best places to see wintering bald eagles in New York. http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/63144.html

--Here’s a video from anti-pipeline activists protesting at Cuomo’s State of the State. http://bit.ly/1N9TtYo

GOOD FRIDAY 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

STOP WASTING HYDROPOWER — Opinion for the New York Times by Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Jay Faison of ClearPath Foundation: “President Obama has described climate change as one of the biggest challenges facing our country and has said he is open to new ideas to address it. He can start by supporting legislation to increase the nation’s hydropower capacity, one of our vital renewable energy resources. Hydropower harnesses the force of flowing water to generate electricity. It already produces about 6 percent of the nation’s electricity and nearly half of its renewable energy, more than wind and solar combined.” http://nyti.ms/1n2ve9P

LOW OIL PRICES HURTING RECYCLING — Planet Money’s Stacey Vanek Smith: Plastic bags are worth recycling when oil prices are high, but while crude is covering at about $30 a barrel, it’s much cheaper to create new plastic. http://n.pr/1PdMW07

NEW MEXICO TO SUE EPA OVER SPILL — The Hill’s Timothy Cama: “New Mexico says it will sue the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its massive August toxic mine waste spill in Colorado. The spill, caused by an EPA contractor trying to remediate a polluted abandoned mine, sent 3 million gallons of sludge with heavy metals into the Animas River near Silverton, Colo. It emptied into the San Juan River, which flows to New Mexico, causing the river to close for days before the waste dissipated. The water soon returned to its pre-spill conditions, but New Mexico said it is still evaluating the impacts.” http://bit.ly/1n3Xby2

NRG’S CLEAN ENERGY FUTURE IN QUESTION — Bloomberg’s Mark Chediak: “The future of NRG Energy Inc. following the departure of Chief Executive Officer David Crane could be decidedly less green. Since he was fired last month, two executives hand-picked by the former CEO to manage NRG’s clean-energy business have left. The power producer is pursuing the sale announced last fall of a majority stake in a money-losing home solar business that put a drag on the stock and a nail in Crane’s coffin.” http://bloom.bg/1SQdLNR

SUPERNOVA VIDEO: The Wall Street Journal has a video representation of what scientists are describing as the most luminous supernova ever. http://on.wsj.com/1TYdjv6

GAS-FUELED POWER TO GROW ALONGSIDE RENEWABLES FOR DECADES — Breaking Energy’s Alap Shah: “In the race to reduce carbon footprints and replace coal as a primary energy source, much has been made of an alleged ‘battle’ between natural gas and renewables in the power generation industry. However, an astute market read — fueled by actions from utilities and regulatory agencies – may find the two sectors growing in conjunction for decades to come.” http://bit.ly/1Pexlxa

LA DEMS JOIN CALL FOR EXXON PROBE — InsideClimate News: “The Democratic Party of Los Angeles has added to pressure on California Attorney General Kamala Harris to investigate ExxonMobil over the company's history of promoting doubt about climate change after its own scientists warned of the dangers of global warming.” http://bit.ly/1TYVtbp

FIRST LNG EXPORT DELAYED — The Advocate: ”Houston-based Cheniere Energy said Thursday it expects to begin exporting liquefied natural gas from its Sabine Pass liquefaction terminal in Cameron Parish in late February or March. The first cargo was expected to occur by late January. Construction for its first LNG unit was completed ahead of schedule and within budget, said Neal Shear, Cheniere’s interim president and CEO. However, instrumentation issues cropped up during the final phases of plant commissioning that require additional work.” http://bit.ly/1n3XngM

WHAT CHEAP OIL IS GOOD FOR: Noah Smith writes on Bloomberg View that while markets and fracking companies are worried about cheap oil, others should party down. “The fall in oil prices means that trucking companies are going to be able to buy less expensive gas for their fleets. Construction companies will be able to build office towers and houses more cheaply. Farmers will spend less to plant and harvest their crops. Intel won’t have to pay as much to run its microchip plants, nor Boeing to run its aircraft factories.” http://bv.ms/1TYT8gI

OIL REBOUND JOLTS MARKET — MarketWatch: “U.S. stocks rallied sharply Thursday as a rebound in oil prices allowed the main indexes to claw back much of the steep fall seen in the previous session. Gains on Wall Street were across the board, but energy shares outperformed all others as crude-oil futures rose 2.4% to $31.20 a barrel.” http://bit.ly/1TYVkVq

FUTURES:

--Oil gains: Oil futures had a rare uptick Thursday, but the Wall Street Journal reports the fun won’t last as continued oversupply puts pressure on prices.

“Light, sweet crude settled up 72 cents, or 2.4%, to $31.20 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, rose 72 cents, or 2.4%, to $31.03 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.” http://on.wsj.com/1ZyAm6K

--Natural gas plummets: Reports show supply is much higher than expected, sending futures prices dropping.

“Futures for February delivery fell 5.7% to settle at $2.139 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange.” http://on.wsj.com/1ZyAzqu

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