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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by Nuclear Matters: Transmission builder hits PSC; PSEG to pay Long Islanders for smart meters

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.

TRANSMISSION DEVELOPER FAULTS PSC — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: One of the transmission developers vying to increase electrical grid capacity through the Hudson Valley claims the state acted inappropriately in dismissing its proposal. Boundless Energy NE, LLC on Tuesday petitioned the state Public Service Commission to rehear its proposal to upgrade transmission capacity in the Hudson Valley, which the state is now seeking to upgrade after years of bottlenecks. Boundless says its proposal would cause the least amount of disruption for Hudson Valley residents who have fought against the transmission upgrades. http://politi.co/1nwQrbY

PSEG L.I. TO PAY CUSTOMERS TO INSTALL SMART METERS — Newsday’s Mark Harrington: “PSEG Long Island would pay customers $85 for installing special energy-cutting devices for use during peak times under an updated power-reduction program initiated by LIPA. Under the proposed new rules, which would take effect April 1 pending LIPA trustee approval, PSEG would allow outside companies that manage such devices to market them to customers with special incentives to encourage adoption and use. In addition to the $85 sign-up fee, customers would receive $25 a year for remaining in the program.” http://nwsdy.li/1nwQODj

** 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:

--State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is leading a group of investors pushing for ExxonMobil to disclose how it is planning for a lower carbon future. DiNapoli contends the company must disclose aspects of its business plan in the wake of the Paris climate change accords, in which nations across the globe agreed to lower emissions. http://politi.co/1nwWqgM

--SolarCity may build up to 6 megawatts of solar arrays for Erie County. http://bit.ly/1SuM1PE

--The first solar schools project under the NY-Sun program has begun at the New York Institute for Special Education in the Bronx: on.ny.gov/1Suyurf

--Con Ed gets props from J.D. Power: Con Edison has won its division in business customer satisfaction rankings, capturing the highest score for large utilities in the East region, according to a J.D. Power survey released recently. http://politi.co/1nwUUeS

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

OBAMA LOOKS TO SPUR HIGH-TECH NUCLEAR — The New York Times’ Henry Fountain: “The Obama administration is providing seed money for two advanced nuclear reactor designs, part of its effort to keep nuclear power in the nation’s energy mix over the next several decades. The Energy Department said it would provide up to $40 million each to two companies, X-energy and Southern Company, over about five years to help develop the alternative reactor designs. As a start, the department, which announced the investments last Friday, is giving each company $6 million this year. Nuclear energy, which produces practically no greenhouse gas emissions, accounts for 19 percent of the electricity produced in the United States. But abundant, inexpensive natural gas has disrupted the economics of energy production, making some nuclear plants unprofitable. A few plants have been closed and only five new plants are under construction.” http://nyti.ms/1nwXf9C

OP-ED: SOLARCITY CEO RIPS NEVADA — SolarCity’s Lyndon Rive: “Last week, the Nevada Public Utilities Commission chose to ignore hours of testimony from solar customers and workers, begging them to delay their decision to end rooftop solar in Nevada. As I’ve said before, the decision was a massive bait and switch. After encouraging thousands of Nevadans to go solar, the government dramatically increased their costs after the fact. Even worse, the Public Utilities Commission continues to hide the real impact of the decision from Nevadans. Commissioner Noble misled the public when he said the impact on customers would be $1.68 per month.” http://bit.ly/1KpXgko

GE MOVES TO BE CLOSER TO WORKERS — Boston Globe’s John Chesto: “General Electric’s announcement last week that it will abandon the suburban setting of Fairfield, Conn., for the South Boston waterfront reinforces [design consultancy Continuum’s] decision to head down the Mass. Pike into Boston. It also reflects a trend that has taken hold in major metro areas during the past five years, as more employers move into dense urban areas to better compete for Millennial-aged workers who have no interest in the burbs — or even in owning a car. People used to move to where the jobs are located. Now, increasingly, it’s the jobs that are moving to be closer to people.” http://bit.ly/1S2e9rT

OIL TO KEEP LOSING — The Associated Press: “The International Energy Agency says oil prices may fall further this year due to low demand, warm winter weather and an oversupply of crude. The organization, which advises countries on energy policy, said in its monthly report Tuesday that global excess supply may reach 1.5 million barrels per day during the first half of the year. 'Unless something changes, the oil market could drown in over-supply,' the IEA said.” http://wapo.st/1nwVnxz

OIL MARKETS STRESSING BANKS — The New York Times: “Low oil prices are rattling global markets and destabilizing economies around the world. They are also posing one of the first big tests to the United States banking system since the financial crisis. Banks of all sizes are marking down the value of loans and setting aside reserves to absorb additional losses as oil producers struggle to pay their debts. On Tuesday, Bank of America said provisions for credit losses increased $264 million in the fourth quarter, driven by the downturn in the energy sector. Citigroup, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase reported last week that oil issues also weighed on fourth-quarter earnings.” http://nyti.ms/1Uasmlw

CONGRESS TOOK ACTION ON FLOODING — InsideClimate News: “President Obama's plan to safeguard the nation from increasing flood risk due to climate change was quietly green-lighted by Congress last month in the 2016 omnibus budget bill. It marks one of the only actions Congress took on global warming in all of 2015, and it came as a surprise considering the longstanding opposition from Republicans. And it is a critical one, several policy experts said. It will impact billions of dollars of federally funded construction projects across the country, from highways and bridges to hospitals and housing complexes, at a time when flooding in the U.S. is getting worse every year because of climate change.” http://bit.ly/1KpXxUD

HAWKING: WE THREATEN OURSELVES — The Associated Press: “Physicist Stephen Hawking has warned that new technologies will likely bring about ‘new ways things can go wrong’ for human survival. When asked how the world will end — ‘naturally’ or whether man would destroy it first — Hawking said that increasingly, most of the threats humanity faces come from progress made in science and technology. They include nuclear war, catastrophic global warming and genetically engineered viruses, he said. Hawking made the comments while recording the BBC's annual Reith Lectures on Jan. 7. His lecture, on the nature of black holes, was split into two parts and will be broadcast on radio on Jan. 26 and Feb. 2.” http://nyti.ms/1UasjpW

HUSKY SLIGHTLY LESS HUSKY — The Wall Street Journal’s Chester Dawson: “Canadian oil and gas producer Husky Energy Inc. eliminated its dividend Tuesday and cut its annual production target and spending budget to cope with the downward spiral in energy prices. Husky, which released its initial 2016 budget last month, reduced its capital spending plan to a range between $2.1 billion Canadian dollars ($1.44 billion) and C$2.3 billion,down from between C$2.9 billion to C$3.1 billion.” http://on.wsj.com/1nwYsxs

MICHIGAN GOVERNOR UNDER WATER — By POLITICO's Darren Goode and Annie Snider: Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, until recently a rising GOP star and potential vice presidential contender, is scrambling to salvage his legacy amid questions about his administration's role in causing and then fumbling Flint's water crisis. Snyder was preparing to use Tuesday night's State of the State speech to outline a $20 million-plus plan for addressing the water contamination in the economically struggling, largely African American city, which has left thousands of children suffering from potentially brain-damaging lead poisoning. And he continued to press for federal aid beyond the $5 million that President Barack Obama made available in an emergency declaration last weekend. http://politico.pro/1nwWHQT

FUTURES:

--Oil drops further: Domestic and European crude are now safely in sub-$30 territory as concerns persist over too much supply and not enough demand.

“Light, sweet crude settled down 96 cents, or 3.3%, to $28.46 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, gained 2 cents, or less than 0.1%, to $28.78 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.” http://on.wsj.com/1nwXOA9

--Natural gas also retreats: You may have heard about that blizzard headed for the East Coast? Natural gas traders apparently have not.

“Futures for February delivery settled down 0.9 cent, or 0.4%, at $2.091 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the contract’s lowest settlement since Dec. 24. Gas has lost 15% in just more than a week.” http://on.wsj.com/1nwY6al

** 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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