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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by Nuclear Matters: Hoosick Falls pollution probe; SolarCity getting paid

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.

POLLUTION PROBE OF HOOSICK FALLS WIDENS — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: The state is investigating at least 11 possible contaminated or illegal dumping sites in the Hoosick Falls area, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the probe. The proliferation of the pollution in a variety of sites confirms that pollution in the village goes far beyond the Saint-Gobain facility that state officials have determined is responsible for the PFOA in the municipal water supply and could make finding a new water source more challenging. Some of the private wells have also tested for extremely high levels of PFOA, more than 30 times the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended limit of 100 parts per trillion. Some are miles from the factory site, and are likely polluted with PFOA after illegal dumping from the factory.

HOCHUL: WE’RE PAYING SOLARCITY — POLITICO New York’s Jimmy Vielkind: Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said the state is moving quickly to pay contractors working on a $900 million solar panel factory that last week laid off some of its workers. More than 200 workers were given pink slips following an emergency meeting on Thursday in Albany with Cuomo administration officials. Hochul, a former congresswoman who lives in suburban Buffalo, said she was not at that meeting and didn't have details on why the state didn't pay. “Some of the money has been released already. Some of the people are back to work already, and it's being worked on, literally, hour by hour,” Hochul said. “This comes down to the scale of a project that's getting funded from a variety of sources. There's different entities involved.”

** 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 **


--Opinions are divided on the fate of the Cayuga power plant among those who live nearby.

--One born every minute: Every few months Con Edison, along with all of the other utilities, will issue a warning on scammers posing as utility officials and bilking customers. The Staten Island Advance reports on the latest.

--What are Cuomo’s motives in stopping Algonquin? Forbes contributor Ken Silverstein delves into the treacherous terrain of the governor’s motives.

--Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has filed another objection to a request by the developers of the Constitution pipeline to begin tree clearing for the project even though New York state has not signed off on it.

--New chief to oversee PSEG’s Nuclear Artificial Island: reports that Sena, a nuclear vetreran, will take over as president of PSEG Nuclear.

--PSEG L.I. announces lower power supply charge: PSEG Long Island announced that as of yesterday, the power supply charge will be 6.1329 cents per kilowatt hour, 0.1608 cents less than February’s power supply charge.

GOOD WEDNESDAY 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:

FORMER FRACKING GIANT INDICTED ON CONSPIRACY — The Wall Street Journal’s Amy Harder and Brent Kendall: “Aubrey McClendon, former CEO of Chesapeake Energy and one of the biggest names in the U.S. energy boom, was indicted Tuesday on charges of conspiring to rig bids for the purchase of oil and natural-gas leases. The Justice Department unveiled the charges Tuesday evening, alleging Mr. McClendon, who stepped down as the top executive of Chesapeake in 2013, orchestrated a conspiracy between two large oil and natural-gas companies to not bid against each other for the purchase of certain leases in northwest Oklahoma.”

SOLAR GROWING THIS YEAR — Quartz’s Melvin Beckman: “The US Energy Information Administration is projecting solar will be the country’s fastest-growing source of energy this year, with an additional 9 gigawatts of capacity built. California will set the pace with nearly half of that (3.9 gigawatts). California has led solar production for years. But before you spray champagne on your solar panels in celebration, please note that solar still makes up a very small portion of overall US energy production.”

WHAT AMERICA CAN LEARN FROM SOUTH KOREA’S NUKES — Vox’s Brad Plumer: “There's a compelling argument that the world ought to be building many more nuclear power plants. We'll need vast amounts of carbon-free energy to stave off global warming. It's not at all clear that renewables can do the job alone. And nuclear is a proven technology, already providing 11 percent of electricity globally. So what's the catch? Cost. More than safety or waste issues, cost is nuclear's Achilles' heel. Modern-day reactors have become jarringly expensive to build, going for $5 billion to $10 billion a pop. Worse, the price tag seems to be rising in many places. Back in the 1960s, new reactors in the US were one of the cheaper energy sources around. Two decades later, after a series of missteps, costs had increased sixfold — a big reason we stopped building plants.”

SUN-DRENCHED STATES COME TO DIFFERENT SOLAR CONCLUSIONS — Reuters’ Nichola Groom: “Two sun-drenched U.S. states have lately come to very different conclusions on a controversial solar power incentive essential to the industry's growth. In California, regulators voted in January to preserve so-called net metering, which requires utilities to purchase surplus power generated by customers with rooftop solar panels. But neighboring Nevada scrapped the policy -- prompting solar companies to flee the state. The decisions foreshadow an intensifying national debate over public support that the rooftop solar industry says it can't live without.”

OFFSHORE WIND GETTING BIG BACKERS — Bloomberg’s Joe Ryan: “After years of false starts, U.S. offshore wind has attracted some marquee names with deep pockets, creating a sense of optimism for the emerging industry ... D.E. Shaw, a $39 billion hedge fund, is the principal owner of Deepwater Wind LLC, which expects to complete this year the first wind farm in U.S. waters. It’s joined by Dong Energy A/S of Denmark, the world’s largest offshore-wind developer, which is scouting for sites up and down the East Coast.”

SO. CAL’S SMOG REGULATOR OUT — The Los Angeles Times: “Southern California’s air quality board is moving to replace its top executive a month after Republicans gained a majority on the panel with new appointees who have vowed to make pollution regulations less burdensome for businesses. The South Coast Air Quality Management District revealed in an agenda item posted Tuesday that its governing board will hold a closed-door session to evaluate the performance of longtime executive officer Barry Wallerstein and consider his resignation, dismissal or other personnel actions. In the session, which will take place at the air board’s monthly meeting Friday in Diamond Bar, members may also consider the appointment of an acting director to replace him.”

SO LONG, FLUBENDIAMIDE — The Associated Press: “Federal regulators on Tuesday ordered the makers of a widely used insecticide to take it off the market because it harms tiny aquatic animals. The Environmental Protection Agency ordered Bayer CropScience and Nichino America to cancel production of all products containing flubendiamide. The decision comes after studies showed the insecticide harms species at the bottom of aquatic food chains in streams and ponds, impacting the fish that feed on them.”

REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN ACCUSES EPA OF DELIBERATELY CAUSING TOXIC SPILL — The Associated Press: “The Republican chairman of a congressional panel investigating a 3-million-gallon spill of toxic wastewater from an inactive Colorado gold mine said Tuesday the mine was purposely breached by a government cleanup team. The assertion by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop of Utah contradicts claims by the Obama administration that the cleanup team was doing only preparatory work at the Gold King mine.”

EPA COLLECTING FLINT DATA — The Associated Press: “Federal officials are collecting data on the levels of lead in Flint’s water system and hope to be able to share the findings in April, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said ... Flint was under state financial control in 2014, when officials switched its water service from Detroit’s system to the Flint River. But state officials did not require Flint to add anti-corrosive chemicals when the city began drawing water from the river.”

THE CANADIAN RIGHT’S CARBON TAX — The New York Times’ Eduardo Porter: “In 2008, the British Columbia Liberal Party, which confoundingly leans right, introduced a tax on the carbon emissions of businesses and families, cars and trucks, factories and homes across the province. The party stuck to the tax even as the left-leaning New Democratic Party challenged it in provincial elections the next year under the slogan Axe the Tax. The conservatives won soundly at the polls. Their experience shows that cutting carbon emissions enough to make a difference in preventing global warming remains a difficult challenge. But the most important takeaway for American skeptics is that the policy basically worked as advertised.”

OIL COUNTRIES AGREE TO SLOW PRODUCTION — The Wall Street Journal: “A 'critical mass' of oil-producing countries have agreed to freeze oil production, Russia’s energy minister said Tuesday, as African, Latin American and Persian Gulf producers expressed optimism about joining the deal. After meeting with President Vladimir Putin and top Russian oil executives, Energy Minister Alexander Novak said countries producing 73% of the world’s oil had agreed to the tentative deal, according to state news agency TASS. Mr. Novak said capping oil production would prove effective even without Iran, which hasn’t said it would take part.”


--Oil does well on talk of production cuts, The Wall Street Journal’s Nicole Friedman reports.

“Light, sweet crude settled up 65 cents, or 1.9%, at $34.40 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest settlement since Jan. 5. Brent, the global benchmark, rose 24 cents, or 0.7%, to $36.81 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, the highest level since Jan. 4.”

--Natural gas rallies on the slim hope that prices are so low they can’t go anywhere but up, WSJ reports. This is really how it works?

“Futures for April delivery recovered later in the session to settle up 3.1 cents, or 1.8%, at $1.742 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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