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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by Nuclear Matters: Indian Point probes grow; Murray blasts PSEG

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.

GROWING LIST OF INDIAN POINT PROBES — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: A state analysis of the pipeline crossing near the Indian Point nuclear facility will join a growing list of probes from the Cuomo administration of a plant the governor is working to close. On Monday, four state agencies asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to temporarily stop construction of the Algonquin pipeline so state officials can determine whether it poses a safety threat. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in a release, cited multiple emergency shutdowns of Indian Point in 2015 as a reason for the state’s analysis request. http://politi.co/1VNIzOq

--Fears of the pipeline follow a cyclical pattern of worry over the safety of Indian Point, the New York Times reports. http://nyti.ms/1XWzG6x

SOLARCITY PAYMENTS ARRIVE, FINALLY — The Buffalo News’ Jonathan Epstein: “State officials announced late Monday that they are finally making good on more than $82.5 million in late payments to construction contractors on the SolarCity project, ending an embarrassing crisis that briefly threatened the jobs of nearly 200 workers. In a statement issued jointly by Empire State Development Corp. and the State University of New York Polytechnic Institute, officials said the payments were being processed and are ‘slated to be delivered to SUNY Poly and disbursed as soon as tomorrow, Tuesday, March 1, 2016.’” http://bit.ly/1ndXqpA

** 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. **

NATIONAL GRID’S RATE RELIEF CASE — Newsday’s Mark Harrington: “National Grid wants to spend an additional $1.3 million a year on discounts for low-income Long Islanders even though the company has left $8.2 million unspent on those programs since 2007. At a technical conference here as part of the company’s 22 percent rate-hike proposal, an attorney questioned a National Grid figure that only 11,000 of its 600,000 Long Island customers are eligible for low-income discounts and other rate relief. National Grid spent $3.3 million on low-income programs on Long Island last year. The company said it needs to do more to identify eligible customers.” http://nwsdy.li/1Tj1nHU

MURRAY BLASTS PSEG L.I. — POLITICO New York’s David Giambusso: Republican Assemblyman Dean Murray has joined the fray in a continuing battle on Long Island over the Caithness II power plant proposed for construction in Yaphank. Murray sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo criticizing PSEG Long Island for opposing construction of the plant, accusing the utility — contracted by the Long Island Power Authority to run the island's energy grid — of hypocrisy for not supporting the plant. The utility maintains it does not oppose anything but until it fully assesses Long Island's energy needs it will not support any new plant construction. http://politi.co/1Qh8H2D

DIVESTING FROM FOSSIL FUELS — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: New York must divest its holdings from fossil fuels to avoid contributing to global climate change, some state lawmakers argued Monday. Democratic Sen. Liz Krueger of Manhattan and Democratic Assemblyman Felix Ortiz of Brooklyn held a roundtable discussion in Albany to discuss their proposed bill to force the state to divest from investments in ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and other major energy companies. http://politi.co/1TMfeop

BAG FEES ARE BACK — The Gotham Gazette’s Samar Khurshid: “‘Last year, we said bag fees by Earth Day,’ Council Member Brad Lander told Gotham Gazette, shortly before an unrelated committee hearing at City Hall. ‘I’m saying it again. Bag fees by Earth Day.’ Even a year later, Lander is confident that the bill he is co-sponsoring with Councilwoman Margaret Chin to impose fees on single-use plastic and paper bags at grocery stores and bodegas will pass the Council by April 22, Earth Day. Lander, Chin and their allies are making a renewed push to see the legislation pass, including making tweaks to the bill and gathering new support.” http://bit.ly/1oKI3pq

AROUND NEW YORK:

--The New York Times’ Jesse McKinley traveled to Hoosick Falls to give a comprehensive overview of the challenges there. http://nyti.ms/1QonrL9

--Time Warner Cable News produced a half-hour special on the Hoosick Falls water crisis. http://bit.ly/1QnO2YP

GOOD TUESDAY 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

TESLA WALKOUT — Bloomberg’s Dana Hull: “At least 100 workers at the construction site for Tesla Motors Inc.’s battery factory near Reno, Nevada, walked off the job Monday to protest use of workers from other states, a union official said. Local labor leaders are upset that Tesla contractor Brycon Corp. is bringing in workers from Arizona and New Mexico, said Todd Koch, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Northern Nevada ... Construction work at the $5 billion, 10-million-square-foot factory has been proceeding ahead of schedule. Tesla said in an e-mailed statement that the nonunion contractor involved in the dispute Monday, which it didn’t identify by name, is using more than 50 percent Nevada workers and that more than 75 percent of the factory workforce is residents of that state.” http://bloom.bg/1Lrcwn7

MEDIA MOVES: The Wall Street Journal is bolstering its leadership staff on the energy desk because, obviously, energy is the most important beat out there. Talking Biz reports on a memo sent by WSJ’s business editor Jason Anders in which he announces Elena Cherney will serve as the paper's global energy editor, Miguel Bustillo has been appointed U.S. energy editor and Michael Amon will be energy editor for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. More here: http://bit.ly/1Lre2FC

DEEPWATER AND DEWEY CASES PRESENT SIMILAR CHALLENGES — The New York Times’ DealBook: “The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 and the demise of venerable New York law firm Dewey & Leboeuf in 2012 could not be more different. One causing widespread pollution along with 11 deaths, while the other involved questionable accounting to keep the firm afloat as it struggled to deal with a changing marketplace.” http://nyti.ms/21xQzdn

JAPAN INDICTS FUKUSHIMA EXECS — The New York Times’ Jonathan Soble: “Japanese prosecutors indicted three former executives of the Tokyo Electric Power Company, owner of the ruined Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, on Monday, charging them with criminal negligence causing death for their role in reactor meltdowns that came after an earthquake and tsunami five years ago. The indictments were the first stemming from the nuclear disaster, which spread radiation across a wide area in northeastern Japan and led to evacuations that left more than 100,000 homeless.” http://nyti.ms/1SdDhwN

VW SCANDAL A LESSON IN BAD CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS — The New York Times’ Danny Hakim: “Someday, Volkswagen’s emissions cheating scandal will be studied in crisis communications textbooks. And not in a good way. ‘There was something like a tsunami,’ Hans-Gerd Bode, Volkswagen’s communications chief since September, said in an interview. ‘Thousands of calls and emails coming in at the same time. A crisis like this, the company was not prepared for,’ he said. With the company continuing to negotiate with foreign governments, ‘We don’t know the right way out.’ In the months since it admitted it designed its diesel cars to cheat on tailpipe-emissions tests, the company has struggled with its messaging.” http://nyti.ms/1UuZd6Y

VERMONT TO TEST NUCLEAR PLANT GROUNDWATER — The Montpelier Times-Argus: “The state of Vermont wants to ‘trust but verify’ when it comes to testing groundwater at the site of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. But plant owner Entergy Nuclear told members of the Vermont Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel Thursday night that the testing protocol being sought by the Department of Health wasn’t necessary.” http://bit.ly/1UuZnv3

MARKEY TO EXTEND WIND CREDIT — Bloomberg’s Joe Ryan: “U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey plans to introduce legislation ‘soon’ to extend a federal tax credit that will spur wind-farm development in coastal waters. The Massachusetts Democrat is seeking to extend the investment tax credit until 2025, he said at the U.S. Offshore Wind Leadership Conference in Boston Monday. The policy grants a 30 percent credit for the costs of developing renewable-energy projects.” http://bloom.bg/1TiEZhZ

LEPAGE: SEND ME YOUR PIPELINES — The Bangor Daily News: "[Maine] Gov. Paul LePage has asked regulators to move quickly in considering a $5 billion natural gas pipeline proposal from Kinder Morgan, and others, in order to get more of the fuel into New England. LePage wrote last week to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, asking them to 'expeditiously move forward' in considering Kinder Morgan’s Northeast Energy Direct project, which would connect Dracut, Massachusetts, to the gas-rich Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania." http://bit.ly/1oKJ1C4

FUTURES:

--Oil gains on hope: Nicole Friedman of The Wall Street Journal reports that, while oil production hasn’t actually gone down, oil futures were buoyed by the hope it would soon.

“Light, sweet crude for April delivery settled up 97 cents, or 3%, at $33.75 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest settlement since Jan. 6. Prices posted a 0.4% gain for the month, the first monthly gain since October. Brent, the global benchmark, rose 87 cents, or 2.5%, to $35.97 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, capping a 3.5% monthly gain. The April Brent contract expired at settlement Monday. Brent for May delivery, the more actively traded contract, rose $1.13 cents, or 3.2%, to $36.57 a barrel.” http://on.wsj.com/1Tj2h78

--Natural gas tumbles back down to a 17-year low, Friedman reports.

“Natural gas futures for April delivery settled down 8 cents, or 4.5%, to $1.711 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices settled at the same level last Thursday, when it was the lowest closing price reached since March 1999.” http://on.wsj.com/1Tj2xmJ

** 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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