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POLITICO New York Energy: State spend on Hoosick water alternate; SolarCity's painful lesson

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

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STATE TO SPEND $10 MILLION ON HOOSICK FALLS WATER SOURCES—POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: The state will spend $10 million to begin planning for a new alternate water supply in the village of Hoosick Falls, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday. The announcement came hours after a group of students from the Hoosick Falls school district pressed Cuomo to include funding for a new water supply for the town in the state budget. The village water supply in Hoosick Falls is tainted with dangerous levels of a toxic chemical. The state will work quickly to ensure that Hoosick Falls has a new, permanent supply of clean water, Cuomo said in a statement. The money will also be used to purchase and install 1,500 water treatment systems for private homes.

--Here’s the student-lead press conference that triggered the state’s reaction.

--Meanwhile, PFOA was found at another factory site in sburgh, but it’s unclear if any private or municipal wells have been effected.

SOLARCITY LEARNS PAINFUL ECONOMIC LESSON—The Buffalo News’ David Robinson: “SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive learned a painful, $870 million lesson last week: On Wall Street, there’s nothing investors like less than a company that overpromises and under delivers. Especially when that company does it over and over again. That’s what made SolarCity’s fourth-quarter earnings announcement such a bombshell. Sure, the company missed its growth targets during the final three months of last year, but only by about 3 percent. It still installed 870 megawatts worth of solar panels last year – 73 percent more than in 2014.”


--LIPA’s property tax problem: Newsday’s Mark Harrington reports how LIPA is paying millions in property taxes for plants that barely produce.

--Stores in Erie County began removing products with microbeads in advance of a ban.

--Former Gov. George Pataki said he is “unhappy” that Donald Trump’s name remains on a state park in Westchester County, and reiterated that the reality TV star is “unqualified” to be president.

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KOCH BROTHERS VS. SOLAR—Rolling Stone’s Tim Dickinson: “After decades of false starts, solar power in America is finally poised for its breakthrough moment. The price of solar panels has dropped by more than 80 percent since President Obama took office, and the industry is beginning to compete with coal and natural gas on economics alone. But the birth of Big Solar poses a grave threat to those who profit from burning fossil fuels. And investor-owned utilities, together with Koch-brothers-funded front groups like American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), are mounting a fierce, rear-guard resistance at the state level – pushing rate hikes and punishing fees for homeowners who turn to solar power.”

FRAUD AT PUERTO RICO POWER AUTHORITY—The New York Times’ Mary Williams Walsh: “As a lab director at Puerto Rico’s power authority, Abraham Ortiz uncovered what he suspected was a pattern of lawlessness in the authority’s purchasing department, a secretive place where officials controlled contracts to buy billions of dollars’ worth of oil. For years, he reported to his superiors, the authority bought cheap, residual oil that failed to meet federal clean-air standards, and faked tests to make it look like it had passed. Ledgers were falsified too, he said, to make it appear as though the authority had actually bought the higher-grade oil, which cost more.”

GE EXPLORING OIL DEVELOPMENT IN IRAN—The Wall Street Journal’s Benoit Faucon: “The chief executive of General Electric Co.’s oil-and-gas business has visited Tehran to explore business opportunities there, the company said, the first known visit by an American energy executive to Iran since before Western sanctions were imposed over the nation’s nuclear program. Lorenzo Simonelli, CEO of GE Oil & Gas, visited Iran in recent days and departed Monday as the company takes another look at the country now that the nuclear-related sanctions have ended, a GE spokeswoman said.”

NEVADA STANDS BY SOLAR SUBSIDY CUT — InsideClimate News: “Nevada utility regulators dealt their latest blow to the state's solar industry on Friday, refusing to reconsider their recent decision to gradually erase the state's popular solar credits. Regulators did, however, decide in a 3-0 vote to give solar users more time to adjust to the new rules, slowing the phase-in of the credit reductions from four to 12 years. Solar advocates were disappointed by the regulators' decision, which they said dims the future for the rooftop solar industry in Nevada.”

OP-ED — A ROCKEFELLER DIVESTS: Neva Rockefeller Goodwin writes in the L.A. Times why she donated her shares in the company her great-grandfather helped create. “My great-grandfather, John D. Rockefeller Sr., created the Standard Oil Company and I inherited shares in the companies it spun off, including Exxon Mobil. But this year I donated those shares to the nonprofit Rockefeller Family Fund's Environmental program, which sold them and is using the $400,000 proceeds to fight global warming. I lost faith in Exxon Mobil's future value.”

UK WINNING WIND — Bloomberg: “The world’s biggest offshore wind-power market may be about to get even bigger as three companies decide whether they’ll commit 7.5 billion euros ($8.4 billion) to raise the U.K.’s installed offshore capacity by more than a third. Mainstream Renewable Power Ltd, Scottish Power Ltd and an SSE Plc-led consortium have until the end of March to reach final investment decisions allowing them to tap into U.K. government subsidies letting them install more than 1.7 gigawatts of new capacity.”

OIL LOSING MORE STEAM — Bloomberg’s Grant Smith: “Here’s one reason to withhold faith in oil’s recovery after the biggest rally in seven years: Once winter fades, it’s downhill all the way for fuel demand until summer. The 12 percent rebound in West Texas Intermediate on Friday couldn’t save the U.S. crude benchmark from a 4.7 percent weekly decline. Prices remain below $30 a barrel even as demand for heating amid the northern hemisphere winter drives demand to its seasonal peak. Fuel consumption will start to taper off next month as temperatures rise, removing further support from prices.”

SCALIA’S DEATH COULD AFFECT CLEAN POWER PLAN—Grist’s Jack Lienkie: “The impact of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death will reverberate across the legal landscape, and we can’t yet grasp its full consequences. But one is already clear: The most important environmental initiative of the Obama presidency is now much more likely to succeed. Tuesday’s stay was issued by a 5-4 vote, with the court’s five conservative justices (Alito, Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas) in favor and its four liberals (Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor) dissenting. Until yesterday, the EPA’s only hope was to convince one of the conservatives — with Kennedy or Roberts being the most likely contenders — to switch sides. That wasn’t such an outlandish goal. The stay order was the judicial equivalent of a hot take. After only five days of consideration of hundreds of pages of briefing, the five conservatives found a “fair prospect” that they would ultimately side with the challengers and strike down the rule. It was entirely plausible that, upon a fuller hearing of the issues, one of them would change his mind. (It wouldn’t be the first time.) But the case was going to be an uphill struggle for the EPA.”

HOLLOW AGREEMENT ON AIRLINE EMISSIONS—The New York Times’ Jad Mouwad: “If the global goals laid out at the recent Paris climate conference are to be met, curbing aviation emissions is critical. But don’t expect last week’s agreement to set the first standards for airplanes to make a big dent. In fact, it will do little to reduce the rise in emissions from airlines, the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gases responsible for climate change. The International Civil Aviation Organization, the United Nations’ aviation agency, approved the first-ever binding agreement to cover emissions for aircrafts. New efficiency standards will apply to all new commercial jets delivered after 2028, as well as existing jets produced from 2023. The rub is that the long-awaited standard is lower than what the industry is on track to achieve anyway in the next decade.”

ANOTHER OIL BANKRUPTCY — The New York Times’ Dealbook: “Yet another oil company has filed for bankruptcy, as the energy industry and its lenders brace for a prolonged slump. Paragon Offshore, which operates offshore drilling rigs from the Gulf of Mexico to the North Sea, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Sunday evening, the latest filing in a painful shakeout buffeting the oil industry. Over the last 16 months, about 60 oil and gas companies have filed for bankruptcy as commodity prices slide, and that figure is expected to double in the coming months if prices remain low. All told, analysts say as much as a third of the sprawling oil and gas industry in the United States could be consolidated as a result of the downturn.”

THIRSTY CONTINENTS SLOWING SEA RISE — The Los Angeles Times’ Sean Greene: "Despite the accelerated melting of glaciers and ice sheets, sea levels aren’t rising quite as quickly as scientists anticipated. The reason: Continents are absorbing more of the water before it flows into the seas, according to a new study. Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory figured this out by measuring changes in Earth’s gravity with twin satellites orbiting the Earth in tandem. Over the past decade, thirsty continents have slowed the rate of sea level rise by about 20%, or about 1 millimeter per year, according to the study published in Science."


--Oil looked stable Monday, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Brent, the global benchmark, was up 0.30% at $33.46 a barrel for April delivery. Its U.S. counterpart, West Texas Intermediate, was up 1.02% at $29.74 for March delivery.”

--Natural gas was down Friday at closing, the Journal reports.

“Futures for March delivery settled down 2.8 cents, or 1.4%, to $1.966 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gas has lost 8.1% in what is now a four-session losing streak.”

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