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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by Nuclear Matters: Hoosick Falls hearings; SolarCity delays

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.

ASSEMBLY TO HOLD HEARINGS ON HOOSICK FALLS — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: In light of the ongoing water pollution crisis in Hoosick Falls, the state Assembly has scheduled hearings for April to discuss water quality issues around the state. A bipartisan coalition of Assembly members wants to hold immediate hearings on the slow response by state and local officials to the situation in Hoosick Falls, as well as the extent of the pollution. The water in Hoosick Falls contains high levels of the toxic chemical PFOA, which has been linked to cancer and other serious health problems. The hearings in April will focus more broadly on water quality issues statewide, which will presumably include aging infrastructure, said Michael Whyland, spokesman for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

SOLARCITY DELAYS FULL PRODUCTION IN BUFFALO — The Buffalo News’ David Robinson: “SolarCity’s Buffalo factory likely won’t hit full production until the summer of 2017 — somewhere between three to six months later than the initial timetable. SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive said it will take longer than expected to order and receive some of the sophisticated equipment that will be used to produce solar panels at the South Park Avenue factory. ‘Some of the equipment has longer lead times than we originally expected,’ Rive said during a conference call to discuss the company’s earnings. ‘So that equipment is going to be arriving around the second quarter or third quarter of next year.’”

--SolarCity is losing a lot of money.

DECOUPLING STRIKES LONG ISLAND — Newsday’s Mark Harrington: “PSEG Long Island next month will add a new charge of $1.69 to average customer monthly bills to recoup a 2015 revenue shortfall under a newly instituted LIPA policy ostensibly aimed at promoting green-energy programs. Called a ‘revenue decoupling adjustment,’ the charge is an outgrowth of a change LIPA instituted last year to help the utility recoup costs even if sales dip below expectations. For the second half of 2015, the shortfall amounted to $18.3 million, according to figures LIPA released last month.”

CUOMO ORDERS DUNKIRK INVESTIGATION — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: Gov. Andrew Cuomo has asked the state Public Service Commission to investigate why NRG Energy decided to mothball the Dunkirk coal-burning power plant in Western New York. Cuomo wants the PSC to investigate if consumers were “defrauded,” the Buffalo News reported Wednesday. Cuomo wrote that he had “grave concerns about NRG’s behavior,” and asked whether NRG should be allowed to continue to operate as an electric corporation in the state.

** 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 **


--The town board in Bethlehem, outside Albany, adopted a measure opposing a natural gas pipeline.

--The average gas price in New York has dipped to below $2 a gallon.

--Follow-up tests at the Indian Point nuclear center confirm elevated levels of radiation in groundwater.

--Buffalo City Council members have split with the mayor on how to address lead poisoning from paint in the city.

--New York ranks 4th in the nation in solar jobs, according to a report by The Solar Foundation.

GOOD THURSDAY MORNING: Let us know anytime if you have tips, story ideas or life advice. We're always here at and And if you like this letter, please tell a friend and/or loved one. Here’s a handy sign-up link:

SUPREME COURT RULING COULD IMPERIL GLOBAL WARMING ACCORDS — The New York Times’ Coral Davenport: “The Supreme Court’s surprise decision Tuesday to halt President Obama’s climate change regulation could weaken or even imperil the international global warming accord reached with great ceremony in Paris less than two months ago, climate diplomats said. The Paris Agreement, the first accord to commit every country to combating climate change, had as a cornerstone Mr. Obama’s assurance that the United States would carry out strong, legally sound policies to significantly cut carbon emissions.”

HOW WOUNDED IS THE CLEAN POWER PLAN? — Analysis by Vox’s Brad Plumer: “The Supreme Court just put a kink in President Obama's climate change plans. How big a kink... well, that remains to be seen. In a surprise 5-4 decision on Tuesday evening, the conservative justices halted implementation of the EPA's Clean Power Plan — a major regulation aimed at cutting carbon-dioxide emissions from US power plants. The hold will last until legal challenges to the rule are resolved. A little background here: The Obama administration finalized its Clean Power Plan last summer. This sweeping EPA regulation would require every state to submit a plan between 2016 and 2018 for reducing CO2 emissions from their electricity sectors by a set amount.”

--Five states will press on: Bloomberg reports, “At least five states will press ahead with efforts to curb emissions from power plants even after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay on President Barack Obama’s key climate change program. Colorado, New York, California, Virginia and Washington said they’ll move ahead irrespective of the decision by the nation’s highest court to temporarily block the Clean Power Plan on Tuesday.”

MORE WIND CAPACITY ON PLAINS THAN MANY NUCLEAR PLANTS — Bloomberg’s Brian Eckhouse: “There’s enough untapped wind howling across the vast plains of Oklahoma and Kansas to generate more electricity than a dozen nuclear power plants. What’s missing are transmission lines to ship it from spinning turbines to faraway homes and businesses. That’s why Clean Line Energy Partners LLC plans to spend $9 billion on power transmission across the Great Plains, Midwest and the Southwest, including a 720-mile (1,158-kilometer) proposal awaiting approval from the U.S. Energy Department. It would be one of the longest high-voltage direct current lines built in a generation, and is among at least 11 proposed projects that may open up vast expanses for wind and solar farms with more than 26 gigawatts of capacity.”

THE CHUBSUCKER PROXIES — Bloomberg’s Elise Young: “Not in my backyard, under my street, through my woods, near my dream house or, for that matter, around my chubsuckers. Thousands of New Jerseyans want nothing to do with proposals to build or expand roughly 15 natural-gas pipelines. No matter that utilities say the projects are necessary in a part of the U.S. where 45 percent of electricity comes from natural-gas combustion. No matter the promises of better reliability, four years after New Jersey’s costliest natural disaster left 1.4 million customers without power.”

CALIFORNIA GAS LEAK MAY CHANGE DEBATE — NPR: “A massive gas leak in the Los Angeles area that was first announced in October is still leaking. The company that operates the storage facility where the leak happened says the leak could be capped as early as the end of the week. Most of the leaking gas is the greenhouse gas methane, which is harmful to the environment. But how harmful is it?” Super harmful, is the eventual conclusion.

SNYDER PLANS $360M FOR FLINT — The Associated Press: Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday proposed spending hundreds of millions more dollars to address Flint’s water crisis from lead contamination and to update pipes there and across the state — a plan that lawmakers from both parties generally welcomed as moving in the right direction with the proper priorities. Snyder’s plan would direct $195 million more toward the Flint emergency and $165 million for statewide infrastructure needs, at least a portion of which could replace lead and copper water lines elsewhere.

--Snyder shredded in absentia — POLITICO’s Annie Snider: House Democrats made Republican Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder the center of their Wednesday hearing on the lead contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan, even if he wasn't sitting at the witness table. Snyder declined an invitation from the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee to testify about his role in the calamity that exposed many of the city's 100,000 residents to dangerous levels of lead, a potent neurotoxin, for 18 months. The committee, an extension of the Democratic caucus, does not have the power to subpoena witnesses. "If the buck stops with Gov. Snyder, he needs to answer these questions and produce these documents," said Rep. Elijah Cummings. [PRO]

RENEWABLE IS ALRIGHT — Bloomberg: “The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to halt President Barack Obama’s plan for cutting power-plant emissions may hobble one of his signature environmental efforts. It’s unlikely to smother renewable energy. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan is not scheduled to take effect until 2022, yet for the past two years, clean energy has been the biggest new source of electricity in the U.S., adding more capacity than natural gas.”

THE MINISTRY OF HAPPINESS — The Associated Press: "The prime minister [of the United Arab Emirates], Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, took to Twitter on Wednesday to announce a new Cabinet that includes the country's first-ever 'minister of state for happiness.' ... Sheikh Mohammed insisted that happiness was more than a wish and would be guided by 'plans, projects, programs (and) indices.' The job went to Ohood Al Roumi, who will continue her existing role as director-general of the prime minister's office."

WHITE HOUSE ORDERED TO HAND OVER CLIMATE VID: A federal judge today ordered the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy to hand over several documents to a conservative think tank in a dispute related to a 2014 video linking the so-called polar vortex with climate change. The Competitive Enterprise Institute filed a FOIA lawsuit against OSTP after the agency declined to change the video . The White House said OSPT Director John Holdren was expressing his own opinion on the science, not formal administration policy. — POLITICO staff.

ATTENTION SHOPPERS — The Wall Street Journal: “Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro’s government began implementing a power-rationing program that will force more than 100 malls to close for hours on weekdays unless they can generate their own electricity. Under the three-month plan, malls have to find their own power sources from 1 to 3 p.m. and again from 7 to 9 p.m., according to the Electricity Ministry, adding the measure would help Venezuela cope with a severe drought weighing on its hydroelectric plants.”


--Oil fell Wednesday as supply piles up, The Wall Street Journal reports.

“Light, sweet crude for March delivery settled down 49 cents, or 1.8%, at $27.45 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It has lost 15% in five straight losing sessions, falling to its second-lowest settlement since the 14-year low it landed at Jan. 20. Brent, the global benchmark, held on to gains of 52 cents, or 1.7%, to $30.84 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe. Gasoline posted even bigger gains, its largest in nearly two weeks, settling up 4.36 cents, or 4.9%, at 94.25 cents a gallon.”

--Weather dampens natural gas: Warm weather forecasts mean the demand for natural gas is dropping, as stockpiles accrue.

“Futures for March delivery settled down 5.2 cents, or 2.5%, at $2.046 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange.”

** 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 **

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