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POLITICO New York Energy: Finding money for power plants; city franchising fight

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

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POWER PLANT FUND RECOGNIZES FUTURE OF ELECTRICAL GRID — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: State lawmakers are preparing for more power plants to close, in recognition of New York's shift away from traditional fossil fuel-burning plants to power its energy grid. But environmentalists are balking at what they plan to do about it. Lawmakers included $30 million in the state budget to support communities facing power-plant closures. That money will come from Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the nine-state carbon cap-and-trade program that auctions pollution credits to industry, and it will go directly to municipalities. Power plant closures are expected to accelerate in the next decade, as the Cuomo administration seeks to double the amount of renewable energy powering the electrical grid so that it gets 50 percent from clean energy by 2030.

FORMER DSNY OFFICIALS BACK FRANCHISING — POLITICO New York’s David Giambusso: Two former top sanitation officials will announce their support today for a citywide zoning system to govern how private waste carters operate throughout the five boroughs. Brendan Sexton, who served as sanitation commissioner during the Koch administration, and Ron Gonen, who was former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's "recycling czar," will express their support for commercial waste zones — a system where one contractor is responsible for picking up the commercial refuse for an entire sector of the city. The current system is being examined by the city after labor and environmental advocates launched a campaign against many private carters, whom they accuse of inefficiency, subpar recycling practices and providing unsafe working conditions.

SOLAR FIRMS WORKING ON L.I. ARE STRUGGLING — Newsday’s Mark Harrington: “A Missouri-based renewable energy developer that is under contract to develop commercial solar-energy projects from Wantagh to East Hampton faces the ‘substantial risk’ of a bankruptcy filing, a subsidiary said in a financial filing this week, and the company is ‘not performing’ on at least two Long Island projects. Meanwhile, the developer, SunEdison Inc., based in Maryland Heights, Missouri, confirmed Thursday it has received a subpoena from the U.S. Justice Department into ‘allegations of wrongdoing’ by a former employee, among other things, and that it is under investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.”

HUD IG QUESTIONS CUOMO SANDY SPENDING — POLITICO New York’s David Giambusso: The inspector general for the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development said Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration did not follow protocol in issuing some Community Development Block Grant funds in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. "Our review determined that State officials did not always adequately verify the eligibility of award recipients and their awarded funds and did not recapture preliminary award funds disbursed to ineligible businesses in a timely manner," HUD said in a statement Thursday. Cuomo officials said the statements by the agency's inspector general reflected audits of specific small business grants and loans, and that in many cases, corrective action had already been taken.


--NYISO appointed two new board members. Jane Sadowsky and Bernard Dan will join the board, effective today.

--The Army found PFOA in two wells that supply water to Fort Drum.

--A transformer exploded in Brooklyn and its cover smashed through a Lexus, the Daily News reports.

GOOD FRIDAY 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:

OBAMA, XI JINPING VOW TO SIGN CLIMATE TREATY — The New York Times’ Coral Davenport: “President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China said Thursday that they would sign the Paris Agreement on climate change on April 22, the first day the United Nations accord will be open for government signatures. Officials cast the announcement as a statement of joint resolve by the world’s two largest greenhouse gas polluters, even though there are doubts about whether the United States can meet its obligations under the agreement. In February, the Supreme Court temporarily blocked an Obama administration regulation to curb greenhouse gas pollution from power plants, the centerpiece of Mr. Obama’s climate change policy and the major way for the administration to meet its targets under the Paris accord.”

LARGEST METHANE LEAK IN NATION’S HISTORY — The New York Times’ Nathaniel Rich: “The leak at Aliso Canyon, [Bryan] Conley discovered, was the largest methane leak in the country’s history. But what did that mean? You could begin by comparing emissions from the gas leak at Aliso Canyon with other pollution sites. Conley, [a young trial lawyer running for Congress in California’s 25th District], had logged about 1,500 hours of flight time over oil and gas fields, moonscapes like the Barnett and Eagle Ford Shales in Texas, the Julesburg Basin in Colorado and the Bakken Formation in North Dakota. The highest methane-emission rate he had ever recorded was three metric tons per hour. The methane was leaking from Aliso Canyon at a rate of 44 metric tons per hour. By Thanksgiving, it had increased to 58 metric tons per hour. That is double the rate of methane emissions in the entire Los Angeles Basin.”

FEDERAL TAX CREDIT BOON FOR RENEWABLES, AND STORAGE — GreenTech Media’s Mike Munsell: “While an obvious boon for the U.S. solar market, the recent extension of the federal Investment Tax Credit may also offer a promising boost to the U.S. energy storage market. According to the recently released U.S. Energy Storage Monitor, GTM Research expects an additional half a gigawatt of storage paired with renewables to come online between 2016 and 2020, compared to a scenario with no tax credit extension. Though storage alone doesn’t qualify for the ITC, if installed with solar PV or wind, energy storage systems historically have been able to claim tax credits, as long as they meet certain requirements.”

SUNEDISON GETS SUBPOENAED — The Wall Street Journal’s Josh Beckerman: “SunEdison Inc. said the U.S. Justice Department is looking into issues including financing activities related to a canceled acquisition and confirmed the company had received an inquiry from the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the SEC is investigating the solar-power company’s disclosures to investors about how much cash it had on hand as its stock price collapsed last year. SunEdison said it received a subpoena Monday from the Justice Department seeking information and documentation on financing activities related to a planned $1.9 billion purchase of residential-rooftop installer Vivint Solar Inc.”

VIDEO OF THE DAY: Hillary Clinton is “so sick” of the lies from the campaign of her Democratic presidential rival Bernie Sanders.

OHIO UTILITIES TO SHIFT COST TO CUSTOMERS — The Wall Street Journal’s Cassandra Sweet: “Two of the nation’s largest electricity producers, American Electric Power Co. Inc. and FirstEnergy Corp., on Thursday won regulatory approval in their home state of Ohio to shift the financial burden of unprofitable power plants to consumers. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio voted unanimously to approve plans to have consumers pay extra to keep the plants running, over objections from rival power-plant owners and consumer groups, who said the moves would raise utility bills and hurt competition.”

BIGGEST COAL MINE ANNOUNCES CUTS — Bloomberg’s Tim Loh: “It’s the country’s biggest coal mine, producing one of every eight tons in the U.S. last year. The coal is dug from seams as high as six-story buildings, buried beneath the rolling Wyoming plains of yellow grass and sagebrush. Now, Peabody Energy Corp. is cutting 235 jobs, or 15 percent of its staff, at its North Antelope Rochelle Mine — evidence that coal’s collapse has spread beyond Appalachia’s hills to the biggest open pit in America’s cheapest coal-producing region, the Powder River Basin.”

REVIEW: CATCHING THE SUN — The New York Times’ Andy Webster: “One notion underlying Shalini Kantayya’s winning documentary, ‘Catching the Sun,’ is that solar power is not only a cleaner alternative to fossil fuels but can also effectively curtail unemployment. The film begins in Northern California, which has experienced at least one refinery accident, and where clean-energy initiatives — Sungevity, Solar Richmond — are hiring and training area residents. With brisk, fluid concision, the film jumps to countries fast-tracking solar energy production: Germany and China, which is ‘now the leading country in terms of how fast they are implementing sustainable technology at really large scale,’ according to Peggy Liu, chairwoman of the nonprofit Joint U.S.-China Collaboration on Clean Energy.”

ENERGY COMPANIES BRACE FOR BAD BANK NEWS — The Wall Street Journal’s Spencer Jakab: “Bah, humbug. While it is the wrong season for ‘A Christmas Carol,’ U.S. oil and gas producers are bracing for words to that effect from their lenders. Redetermination season, a twice-yearly ritual in which banks reassess credit lines, is once again upon us, and they are likely to be Scrooge-like. The result could be that more companies are forced into financially desperate types of financing or bankruptcy filings. U.S. oil and gas producers depend disproportionately on bank credit lines to run their businesses. In normal times the seesaw of commodity prices makes redeterminations a pretty ho-hum affair, but the sharp swoon since mid-2014 is spooking banks. Even so, last spring’s redetermination came after a brief rebound in prices and successful stock and bond issues by several firms.”

CHINESE POWER COMPANY EYEING GLOBAL EMPIRE — Bloomberg’s James Paton: “It generates more revenue than Apple Inc. and Boeing Co. combined and serves one in seven people on the planet. Meet State Grid Corp. of China, a company that may be buying power assets near you. While State Grid is hardly a household name, its geographic footprint extends from South America to Australia, where it’s a contender to acquire a stake in Sydney-based power network Ausgrid. Hungry to grow outside China, the company plans to develop a $50 trillion global energy network that could enable electricity to be transmitted beyond continental boundaries.”

U.S. IMPORTING OIL AGAIN — Bloomberg: “In the three months since the U.S. lifted its 40-year ban on crude oil exports, a curious thing has happened. Rather than flooding global markets, U.S. crude shipments to foreign buyers have stalled. At the same time, imports into the U.S. jumped to a three-year high in what looks to be a reversal of a yearslong decline in the amount of foreign crude brought into the American market.”


--Oil rose slightly but concerns persist about oversupply, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The benchmark U.S. oil contract rose 2 cents to $38.34 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The global Brent contract gained 0.95 to settle at $39.60 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange.”

--Natural gas ended lower as stockpiles remain high, the Journal reports.

“The natural gas market rose as much as 1.6% in early trading ahead of the data release, but immediately sold off on the news. Futures for May delivery ended the day down 1.9% at $1.9590 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange.”

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