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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by Nuclear Matters: State investigating IBM pollution; Niagara Falls hydropower gatekeeper

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.

STATE EXAMINING IBM POLLUTION — Gannett’s Tom Wilber: “Metal canisters strategically placed in buildings on the Huron campus in Endicott represent the latest effort to capture information about an environmental hazard lurking out of sight for more than 35 years. Each about the size of a bowling ball perched on a cylindrical base, the canisters will collect air samples in March and April in 14 of the approximately 60 buildings at the former Microelectronics Division of IBM Corp. Technicians will place them in occupied buildings where previous tests have found traces of trichloroethylene above 2 micrograms per cubic meter. The buildings sit on land polluted with toxic chemicals before federal regulations prohibited the once-common practice of dumping them into the ground.”

THE MAN WHO RUNS NIAGARA FALLS — The Buffalo News’ Jane Kwiatkowski Radlich: “ Kowalski is the gatekeeper of Niagara Falls. He sits in a tower of power on the Canadian side of the Niagara River, and regulates the water flowing over the falls – Canadian and American. Kowalski’s main tool is a wall of 18 gates that open and close, regulating the flow of water used for hydroelectricity. Kowalski studied electrical technology at Niagara College in Welland, Ont., and has worked for Ontario Power Generation for 25 years.”


-- Rive, the co-founder of SolarCity and the rooftop solar systems installer’s chief technology officer, will be the first speaker in a University at Buffalo lecture series on energy, environment and water sustainability.

--A Maryland-based residential solar panel installer, that also does some commercial work, will lay off roughly 50 employees when it closes its Henrietta operations later this year, the Democrat and Chronicle reports.

--Discussion on New York Now’s Reporter Roundtable included the Hoosick Falls water crisis.

--A reactor at the Indian Point nuclear center will shut down for a planned refueling and $60 million in renovation, Entergy announced Monday.

--In an opinion piece published in the New York Times, Riverkeeper pointed to issues at Indian Point and said they are further evidence the plant is dangerous and should be shut down.

--The Adirondacks estate of a famed environmentalist has been donated to the state.

--A group of state and local elected officials on Monday wrote to Gov. Andrew Cuomo urging him to back the construction of the proposed Caithness II power plant in Yaphank.

--Reforming Energy Vision shows regulators and utilities how to work together to prepare the grid for the future.

** A Message from Nuclear Matters: Providing 61 percent of the state’s carbon-free electricity, New York’s nuclear energy plants are a necessary and valuable part of the state’s energy mix, and deserve the support of state lawmakers for their role in providing New York with reliable electricity while protecting the environment. Learn more: **

GOOD TUESDAY 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:

UPCOMING RGGI MARKET WILL BE VOLATILE — Bloomberg’s Gerald Silverman: “The upcoming auction of carbon allowances by the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative on March 9 will be one of the most closely watched and hardest to predict in years, as allowance prices in the secondary market have been unusually volatile. The allowance price closed at a record high of $7.50 each in RGGI's last auction in December, but a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, the release of 10 million additional allowances in September from a cost containment reserve (CCR) and other factors caused high volatility and the price of allowances in the secondary market to drop significantly.”

CHINA’S CARBON EMISSIONS COULD PEAK BY 2030 — The Washington Post’s Chelsea Harvey: “In November 2014, President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping shook hands on a historic agreement to control greenhouse gas emissions in both countries. The United States pledged to bring national emissions at least 26 percent below their 2005 levels, while China vowed to put a peak on its growing carbon dioxide emissions by the year 2030. These pledges would go on to become part of each country’s national commitments for the 2015 Paris Agreement, which was adopted during the United Nation’s climate conference in December.”

SOUTH CAROLINA NUCLEAR PLANT FIRE CAUSES SHUTDOWN — The New York Times’ Christine Hauser: “A fire at a nuclear power station in South Carolina damaged a power line and partly shut down the facility on Sunday, but caused no threat to the public, the company said. The flames, which sent a plume of black smoke into the air, damaged a power line in the switchyard at the Oconee Nuclear Station, resulting in an equipment fault, according to a statement from Duke Energy, the plant’s operator. The cause of the fire, described as an “unusual event,” was under investigation, it said on Monday.”

THE COMPANIES MOST RELIANT ON RENEWABLES — National Geographic’s Christina Nunez: “Guess which company bought the most clean energy last year? Yes, no surprise, Google. The tech behemoth still dominates when it comes to wind and solar, but it’s now being joined by other corporate titans, some decades old and far from Silicon Valley. Businesses made deals to acquire 3.4 gigawatts of renewable energy in 2015, equivalent to half of North Dakota’s entire power capacity. Of that amount, two-thirds came from first-time buyers, according to figures from the nonprofit Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), which facilitates such deals through its Business Renewables Center.”

PUSHING CLINTON ON CONSERVATION — Bloomberg’s Jennifer Dlouhy: “Catching a candidate off guard and on video is a tried and true tactic of political opponents. But now it is being deployed not by Clinton’s political foes but relative friends: conservationists who see the competing bid by more-liberal Senator Bernie Sanders as an opportunity to lock in her views on environmental priorities. Leading the cause is 350 Action, the political arm of, which estimates its network of volunteers and paid staff, including Sinclair-Wingate, have lobbed more than 70 direct questions to candidates at rallies, town halls and other events.”


“Oil prices surged Monday on hopes that declines in oil drilling around the world and an output deal among major producers would shrink the global glut of crude,” Nicole Friedman reports in the Wall Street Journal.

** A Message from Nuclear Matters: New York’s existing nuclear energy plants provide 61 percent of the state’s carbon-free electricity and play a vital role in achieving our clean-energy and carbon-reduction goals. Additional premature retirements of safe, reliable nuclear energy plants mean New Yorkers would pay more for electricity, the economy would suffer and we would face substantially higher carbon emissions.

New York has taken an essential step forward to address the premature closures of our nuclear energy plants. The proposed development of a Clean Energy Standard by the Public Service Commission would, for the first time, ensure that existing nuclear plants are valued for their carbon-free attributes.

We urge the state to include all of New York’s existing nuclear energy plants, regardless of their geography in the state, in the proposed Clean Energy Standard. All nuclear energy facilities bring significant reliability and clean-air benefits to New York. Learn more: **

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