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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by Nuclear Matters: Cuomo tells NRG to beat it; NYISO's capacity gap

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.

CUOMO THREATENS TO BOOT ENERGY COMPANY — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to force a private energy company out of New York after it elected to mothball an unprofitable coal-burning power plant. The company, NRG, shut its Dunkirk facility last month, taking dozens of jobs with it. The plant had been in danger of closing for years, but Cuomo intervened in 2013 to cut a deal by which it would stay open by converting to natural gas and be subsidized by ratepayers. Under the agreement, the company was not obliged to keep the plant open beyond last month. http://politi.co/1SkIKCG

CITY OF GHOSTS GETS PROMISE OF JOBS — Sean Kirst for the Buffalo News: “Dunkirk is a city of ghosts, and when you hear a confident voice promising good news, you wait to see and touch the promised result before you’re sure it’s real. Even so, there was an undeniable power in listening to Cuomo — on the stage of this high school, not far from the surging lake — keep repeating the line about 900 jobs, and then speaking with passion of a startup in Dunkirk. Trust me. If you’re from there, you’ve waited a lifetime for a reason to believe those last four words.” http://bit.ly/1PGfHnn

STATE FINDS FAULT IN HOOSICK FALLS POLLUTION — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: The state Department of Environmental Conservation has determined the Saint-Gobain plastics facility and Honeywell corporation are responsible for the toxic chemicals found in the water supply of Hoosick Falls. The determination, announced Thursday, could lead to extensive clean-up costs for both companies. The determination is hardly a surprise as the groundwater near Saint-Gobain has tested for high levels of perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA. “First and foremost, under Governor Cuomo’s direction, our priority is to provide safe and clean drinking water to the people of Hoosick Falls,” http://politi.co/1Pq8vhd

--Elected officials are pushing back against the village of Hoosick Falls’ timeline as to who knew what and when about the pollution. http://bit.ly/1PPgDt1

NYISO’S CAPACITY GAP — The Syracuse Post-Standard’ Tim Knauss: “New York power grid operators say there will be a 325-megawatt shortage of generating capacity after the FitzPatrick nuclear plant and seven other major power plants close. But the report offers no grounds for state regulators to require FitzPatrick to stay open. Instead, the New York Independent System Operator announced it will solicit proposals for projects to fill the anticipated 325-megawatt gap. Solutions could include new power plants, transmission upgrades or demand reduction programs. The new capacity needs to be in place by 2019, the NYISO said in a report released today.” http://bit.ly/1RuB93a

** 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:

--The East Village 5: Five people were arrested and charged in the East Village gas explosion that killed two people and destroyed three buildings last year. POLITICO’s Colby Hamilton reports. http://politi.co/1RuGjwk

--Opower to host Exelon, Con Ed, National Grid, at annual user conference: The company’s third annual user conference, PowerUp, will be held in Miami, March 1-3. More here: http://bit.ly/1RuE785

--Village Voice readers share horror stories of New York energy service companies. http://bit.ly/1KJrSCU

--After insisting for 25 years that the closed Love Canal landfill posed no significant health threat, state officials changed their minds in December and declared it a Superfund site. http://bit.ly/1PmlOiD

#UpstateAmerica: A wild turkey has been running amok in the Albany Times Union parking lot, attacking employees and trying to run into the building. http://bit.ly/1TVC516

HELLO FRIDAY: 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 SAYS POWER PLAN IS FINE: The Washington Post reports President Obama gave his first public comments since the Supreme Court decision to temporarily block his Clean Power Plan, assuring supporters at a DNC fundraiser it would be upheld. “One of the reasons I want to talk about this is because in the last couple of days I’ve heard people say, ‘The Supreme Court struck down the clean power plant rule,’” Obama said. “That’s not true, so don’t despair people. This a legal decision that says, ‘Hold on until we review the legality.’ We are very firm in terms of the legal footing here.” http://wapo.st/1RuBSBq

THE UNIVERSE SPEAKS — Science News’ Andrew Grant: “Tremors in the cosmic fabric of space and time have finally been detected, opening a new avenue for exploring the universe. The historic discovery of those tremors, known as gravitational waves, comes almost exactly a century after Albert Einstein first posited their existence. Researchers with the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or Advanced LIGO, announced the seminal detection February 11 at a news conference and in a paper in Physical Review Letters. The gravitational swell originated more than 750 million light-years away, where the high-speed dance of two converging black holes shook the very foundation upon which planets, stars and galaxies reside.” http://bit.ly/1RuF5kI

L.A. GAS LEAK IS PLUGGED, FOR NOW — The Associated Press: “A blowout at a natural gas well that gushed uncontrollably for 16 weeks and drove thousands of residents from their Los Angeles homes was plugged Thursday, a utility said. While the well still needs to be permanently sealed with cement and inspected by state regulators, the announcement by Southern California Gas Co. marked the first time the leak has been under control since it was reported Oct. 23. 'We have temporarily controlled the natural gas flow from the leaking well and begun the process of sealing the well and permanently stopping the leak,' Jimmie Cho, a SoCalGas senior vice president, said in a statement.” http://wapo.st/20YC66u

CONNECTICUT’S LAST COAL PLANT CLOSING — The Hartford Courant’s Gregory Hladky: “Connecticut's last coal-fired power plant, Bridgeport Harbor Station, is scheduled to be closed by 2021 and replaced by a new cleaner-burning natural gas facility, according to the plant's owner, PSEG. The gas-powered plant is expected to be in operation by 2019 and will be capable of producing 485 megawatts of electricity, company officials said Thursday. The Bridgeport plant is one of the few remaining coal-fired power-generating facilities in New England, and a gritty symbol for anyone driving by on Interstate 95 of the city's outdated industrial past.” http://cour.at/1RuAJKj

HOW CHEAP OIL IS RUINING YOUR LIFE — Al-Jazeera America’s David Cay Johnston: “With the price of oil sliding, you might expect demand for oil would be rising. Not so much. Demand is rising, but at a rapidly decelerating pace, roughly two-thirds lower than last year. That’s not good news, especially for jobs, which have grown in the U.S. for a record 71 straight months. That the growth rate for oil consumption is down sharply tells us a lot about the global economy and the likelihood of continued market volatility. Companies and countries with the financial muscle to buy oil cheap and store it until prices rise have been taking the excess supply, but that must end soon because we are running out of places to store oil.” http://bit.ly/1o3vu8w

--Yellen sticking with interest rates as energy withers: The New York Times reports, “[Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet] Yellen stressed that any Fed decision to employ negative rates in the United States was not imminent. She said that while the financial landscape has darkened since the Fed's December rate increase, reversing course from gradually raising rates to cutting rates is 'not what I consider the most likely scenario.' The Fed chair acknowledged that the central bank has been surprised by how much energy prices have dropped and the U.S. dollar has risen in value since mid-2014.” http://nyti.ms/1RuJu79

SLOW GOING AT FUKUSHIMA NUCLEAR PLANT CLEANUP — The Washington Post’s Anna Fifield: “Seen from the road below, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station looks much as it may have right after the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that caused a triple meltdown here almost five years ago. The No. 3 reactor building, which exploded in a hydrogen fireball during the disaster, remains a tangle of broken concrete and twisted metal. A smashed crane sits exactly where it was on March 11, 2011. To the side of the reactor units, a building that once housed boilers stands open to the shore, its rusted, warped tanks exposed.” http://wapo.st/1Pq7MMZ

TEACHER, TEACH THYSELF — The Washington Post’s Chris Mooney: “A major new survey of U.S. middle school and high school science teachers has found that across the country, a majority are teaching about climate change in their classrooms — but a significant percentage are also including incorrect ideas, such as the notion that today’s warming of the globe is a ‘natural’ process. The study, published in Science Thursday by Eric Plutzer of Penn State University and a number of collaborators from Wright State University and the National Center for Science Education — which supports the teaching of evolution and climate change in schools — consisted of a mail survey of 1,500 teachers nationwide.” http://wapo.st/1RuFZ0D

OIL IS LOSING ITS SHIRT — The Wall Street Journal: “As crude prices slide toward $25 a barrel, many oil companies have little choice but to start making the steep cost cuts they have avoided up until now, jettisoning every well that can’t break even or isn’t needed to keep the lights on ... U.S. and Canadian producers are losing at least $350 million a day at current prices, according to an AlixPartners analysis. Some Canadian companies are now warning they may be forced to shut down older oil-sands sites if prices fall even further.” http://on.wsj.com/1RuGCHu

FUTURES:

--Oil tanks then rebounds: Oil settled relatively unchanged Thursday after hitting 13-year lows earlier in the day. The Wall Street Journal reported that the United Arab Emirates’ energy minister Suhail bin Mohammed al-Mazroueifirst said OPEC would consider a production cut if the world cooperated. The unrelenting drilling and accrual of so much supply threatens to cripple the oil market if not addressed.

“Light, sweet crude for March delivery settled down $1.24, or 4.5%, at $26.21 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. That is a new low dating back to May 2003 after six-straight losing sessions cut prices by 19%. It is the largest six-day percentage decline since the financial crisis. Brent, the global benchmark, lost 78 cents, or 2.5%, to $30.06 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe. Brent has since rallied to gains in electronic trading after the settlement, recently trading up 43 cents, or 1.4%, at $31.27 a barrel. U.S. crude is still lower, though it has pared losses to 23 cents, or 0.9%, at $27.21 a barrel.” http://on.wsj.com/1RuHeN3

--Natural gas loses a little: Abundant supply is keeping gas prices low.

“Futures for March delivery settled down 5.2 cents, or 2.5%, at $1.994 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange, within 25 cents of the 16-year low natural gas just set in December. On Thursday the market had been rising, though only slightly, before the EIA report came at 10:30 a.m. ET.” http://on.wsj.com/1RuHpIp

** 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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