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POLITICO New York Energy: Cuomo to push major clean energy growth; guns at Indian Point

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.

CLEAN ENERGY TO GROW IN 2016 — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: Clean energy advocates and businesses expect 2016 to yield a major expansion of wind, solar and renewable resources in New York. The expected growth will largely be fueled by the Cuomo administration’s mandate that the state receive 50 percent of its power from renewables by 2030. New York’s clean energy industry will also grow from federal tax credits recently passed by Congress intended for wind, solar, hydro and other sources.

NRC APPROVES GUNS AT INDIAN POINT — Patch: “The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has granted pre-emption authority to nuclear facilities in New York and California. This will allow security forces at those facilities to possess and use certain firearms and related devices despite local, state or federal laws and regulations restricting their use. The facilities are the Indian Point, James A. FitzPatrick, Nine Mile Point and R.E. Ginna nuclear power plants in New York and the San Onofre and Diablo Canyon nuclear power plants in California, as well as their dry cask spent fuel storage facilities.”


--The town of Nassau is preparing to investigate the developers of a new gas pipeline for what it claims are unsavory business practices.

--The city of Kingston is objecting to the state’s plan to allow the Thruway Authority and the Department of Environmental Conservation to jointly review a proposed crude oil pipeline that would run from Albany to New Jersey.

--SolarCity may be expanding in New York, but it’s cutting jobs in Nevada after the state enacted anti-solar policy.

--A rare baby shark nursery has been found off Long Island.

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TRANSCANADA SUES OVER KEYSTONE — Bloomberg’s Rebecca Penty: “TransCanada Corp. is suing the U.S. government for rejecting the Keystone XL oil pipeline and plans a rare appeal to a trade tribunal as it seeks to recover $15 billion in costs and damages. The company’s complaint, which names as defendants U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, was filed Wednesday at a U.S. court in Houston. The pipeline builder also gave notice of its intent to start a claim under the North American Free Trade Agreement. President Barack Obama rejected the $8 billion Keystone line on Nov. 6 after seven years of review, saying it would undercut U.S. global leadership on climate change and wouldn’t make a meaningful contribution to the nation’s economy or energy security.”

BROWN DECLARES L.A. GAS LEAK EMERGENCY — The New York Times: “More than two months after a natural gas leak began emitting large amounts of a greenhouse gas near a wealthy neighborhood [in Los Angeles], Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, ordering California agencies to move as quickly as possible to resolve the issue after previous attempts to stem the flow of methane failed. In his statement, the governor said that he acted based on the requests of residents in the planned community of Porter Ranch in northern Los Angeles, and the ‘prolonged and continuing’ nature of the gas blowout at the storage facility. Hundreds of residents have been evacuated since the leak began at a nearby natural gas storage field on Oct. 23.”

OIL DROP LEADS MARKET DOWNTURN — The Wall Street Journal’s Saumya Vaishampyan: “A steep fall in oil prices and fresh concerns about China sent stocks lower Wednesday, extending the shaky start to the year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 252 points, or 1.5%, to 16907. Stocks extended losses as oil prices careened lower, hitting shares of energy companies. U.S. crude oil slumped 5.6% to $33.97 a barrel, settling at its lowest level since December 2008.”

ENERGY INDUSTRY HAS THRIVED UNDER OBAMA — Bloomberg’s Jennifer Dlouhy: “The nation’s biggest fossil-fuel trade group delivered its annual state-of-the-industry report Tuesday. True to form, it included a whack at President Barack Obama’s policies -- even though oil and gas have flourished on his watch. U.S. oil production has surged 82 percent to near-record levels in the past seven years and natural gas is up by nearly one-quarter. Instead of shutting down the hydraulic fracturing process that has unlocked natural gas from dense rock formations, Obama has promoted the fuel as a stepping stone to a greener, renewable future.”

BATTERY STORAGE COSTS TO DROP 40 PERCENT — Bloomberg’s Brian Eckhouse: “The cost of installing energy-storage systems is expected to decline 41 percent over the next five years as key components get cheaper, according to a report by GTM Research. Balance-of-system costs, including hardware, labor and customer acquisition, will fall below $400 a kilowatt by 2020, from an average of $670 per kilowatt now for grid-scale storage systems, GTM said in a report released Monday. Energy-storage technologies, notably batteries, are gaining in popularity as costs decline and utilities incorporate more wind and solar farms onto their grids.”

HACKERS TAKE DOWN POWER GRID — The Washington Post’s Andrea son: “Hackers caused a power outage in Ukraine during holiday season, researchers say, signalling a potentially troubling new escalation in digital attacks. ‘This is the first incident we know of where an attack caused a blackout,’ said John Hultquist, head of iSIGHT Partner's cyber espionage intelligence practice. ‘It's always been the scenario we've been worried about for years because it has ramifications across broad sectors.’”

SOLAR INDUSTRY LOBBYING GROWS — GreenTechMedia’s Stephen Lacey: “In late 2013, top strategists at the solar industry's national lobbying group in Washington mapped out a plan to get a critical tax credit passed through Congress. The 30 percent Investment Tax Credit (ITC), passed as part of the 2008 bank bailout, wasn't set to expire for another three years. But even with the price of solar systems down 50 percent since 2010 and installations hitting record numbers nationwide, companies worried about a looming collapse of demand and a wave of job losses in 2017. Waiting to extend the credit at the last minute wasn't an option. So the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), an organization with 1,000 member companies across the industry, quietly built a multimillion-dollar campaign to prepare for the moment when Congress finally considered it.”

POLITICS OF CLIMATE UNLIKELY TO CHANGE IN 2016 — InsideClimate News: “In 2016, Americans will go to the polls to elect a new president, 34 senators, 435 representatives and 12 governors, not to mention countless state and local leaders. And despite this happening during what many scientists believe will be the hottest year on record and the stakes for the planet growing ever higher, climate change won't crack the list of top political issues.”

MURRAY ENERGY CUTS COAL MINERS — International Business Times’ Cole Stangler: “Murray Energy, the United States' largest underground coal company, is preparing to lay off hundreds of workers, according to the miners' labor union. Such a move would be the latest sign of a struggling industry, which is coming off what is likely one of its least productive years in the U.S. in recent memory. The layoffs will hit at least 690 workers — or roughly 9 percent of the company's workforce — at five West Virginia mines represented by the United Mine Workers of America, the union told International Business Times. It remains unclear how many workers at the company’s non-union mines will be affected. The Ohio-based company, which is privately held, declined to go into specifics about the job losses. But it confirmed layoffs will take place and blamed them, in part, on the Obama administration, which it has sued over environmental regulations.”


--Oil hits 11-year low: Stockpiles of oil, gas and diesel soared in the first week of January with slackening demand, sending oil futures to lows not seen since June 2004, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, fell $2.19, or 6%, to $34.23 a barrel on London’s ICE Futures exchange, the lowest settlement since June 2004. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, the U.S. benchmark traded down $2, or 5.6%, at $33.97 a barrel, the lowest settlement since December 2008.”

-- “Retail gasoline prices could fall 10 or more cents a gallon next week, analysts said, following sharp drops in wholesale markets around the country,” Nicole Friedman of WSJ reports.

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