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POLITICO New York Energy: Dunkirk kerfuffle; LIPA's big day

12/21/2016 10:00 AM EDT

By David Giambusso and Marie J. French

Good morning! You are reading a complimentary synopsis of the POLITICO New York Pro Energy newsletter. Pro subscribers receive a premium version of this newsletter, which includes an enhanced look-ahead and robust analysis of the energy news driving the day, weekdays at 5:45 a.m. Contact us here to learn more.

DUNKIRK'S REFUELING OPPONENTS - POLITICO New York's Marie J. French: Environmental advocates want the state to block a $200 million subsidy to transition the mothballed Dunkirk coal power plant to natural gas. NRG Energy, the largest electric generator in the state, revived a plan to add natural gas capability to the Dunkirk plant in November after a lawsuit challenging the plan was dropped. The repowering was announced with much local fanfare by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a December 2013 visit, and a campaign ad for Cuomo mentioned it as a signature accomplishment in Western New York. But opposition from environmental groups turned the plan into a political headache for the Democratic governor. NRG decided not to move ahead with the project, citing uncertainty from a lawsuit filed by a competitor challenging the ratepayer subsidy. The Cuomo administration directed the Public Service Commission to investigate NRG, a review that is ongoing. NRG now says that if all the other entities involved follow through on their agreements related to the repowering, they'll go ahead with the project. ... Environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Alliance for a Green Economy and Environmental Advocates of New York, say circumstances have changed and there's no reason ratepayers should be on the hook for the project. The groups sent a letter to the PSC on Monday asking the regulator to disallow the ratepayer subsidy that makes the repowering possible. ...

The Cuomo administration said in a statement that all approvals are in place for the repowering to go forward. "There is nothing stopping NRG from repowering the plant," the statement says. "All obstacles have been removed - from a dropped lawsuit, to a contract with a utility - in addition to New York providing NRG with direct support. It's time for them to live up to their agreement and move today to reopen and fully power this plant."

LIPA'S BIG DAY - Newsday's Mark Harrington: "LIPA trustees on Tuesday approved a $3.586 billion budget that will hike average monthly bills by $3 or more next year, while approving a controversial policy to limit board members' speech and fielding supportive comments from wind-farm advocates for an offshore project that has yet to be approved."

DELAWARE BASIN GETS A BOOST - POLITICO New York's David Giambusso: A bill signed by President Barack Obama last week is being hailed by environmental advocates as a bipartisan victory for the Delaware River basin that could bring in much-needed funding and significantly raise the profile of the four-state watershed area.

HUDSON CLEANUP - POLITICO New York's Marie J. French: Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration says its analysis of the Hudson River PCB cleanup shows the remedy agreed to by the Environmental Protection Agency and General Electric is not enough.


--New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres said his reasons for revoking his support for a controversial "waste equity" bill are based strictly on policy considerations, not lobbying pressure.

--New Yorkers for Responsible Waste Management, a coalition of private carting interests, released a video highlighting the type of business that might have to close under a citywide franchise system.

--New York Power Authority CEO Gil Quiniones has been named chairman of the national Alliance to Save Energy.

--The DEC knocked down the Keene barn on Route 73 in Essex County because it was a health and safety hazard.

--Atlantic Wind, a subsidiary of Avangrid Renewables, seeks approval for the 350 MW Mad River Wind project.
--The New York Power Authority approved $3.5 million for the Niagara Gorge project.

--National Grid plans new a substation in Milton.

--The DEC is investigating the shooting of an Onondaga resident's dog. The owner is offering a $1,000 reward for information.

--Editorial: The Albany Times-Union praises the Public Service Commission for efforts to crack down on energy service companies.

--ICYMI: Geothermal advocates are asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to include an incentive for the technology in his upcoming executive budget.

--ICYMI: Parks Department employees go rogue to save a deer.

AWARDS: Jessica Azulay, program director at Alliance for a Green Economy, is the recipient of the 2016 Lou and Judi Friedman Legacy Award from Beyond Nuclear and People's Action for Clean Energy.

ON THE MOVE: NYPA CEO Gil Quinones was elected chairman of the Alliance to Save Energy, a coalition focused on energy efficiency.

GOOD WEDNESDAY MORNING: Let us know 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 BANS DRILLING IN ATLANTIC, ARCTIC - The New York Times' Coral Davenport: "President Obama announced on Tuesday what he called a permanent ban on offshore oil and gas drilling along wide areas of the Arctic and the Atlantic Seaboard as he tried to nail down an environmental legacy that cannot quickly be reversed by Donald J. Trump.'"

-Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also committed to freeze new offshore leasing in his nation's Arctic waters and review the matter every five years, Bloomberg's Jennifer Dlouhy and Josh Wingrove report:

FLINT OFFICIALS CHARGED - Reuters' Steve Friess: "Michigan prosecutors on Tuesday charged four former government officials in Flint, including two city emergency managers, with conspiring to violate safety rules in connection with the city's water crisis that exposed residents to dangerous levels of lead."

STATE DEPARTMENT'S CLIMATE EFFORTS QUESTIONED - The Washington Post's Juliet Eilperin and Carol Morello: "Donald Trump's presidential transition team has asked State Department officials to disclose how much money it provides each year to international environmental groups."

SANTA'S MICROGRID: The Smart Electric Power Alliance announced Tuesday it has consulted successfully on a new 15-megawatt microgrid for DBA Rudolph Red Worldwide LLC, the brainchild of North Pole entrepreneur and innovator, Santa Claus."

THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT, PENDING APPEAL - The Associated Press' Phuong Le: "Eight Seattle children should have 'their day in court' to argue that Washington state and others aren't protecting them from climate change, a judge ruled."

VW SETTLES EMISSIONS CASE - The Associated Press: "Volkswagen reached a deal that will give at least some owners of the remaining 80,000 diesel vehicles caught in the company's emissions cheating scandal the option of a buyback and provide compensation to all of them on top of any repurchase or repairs, U.S. regulators and a federal judge said Tuesday."

TRUMP TEAM WALKS BACK CONSERVATION FUNDRAISER - POLITICO's Matthew Nussbaum: The Trump transition team released a statement Tuesday seeking to distance Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. from a fundraiser that offered a hunting trip with them - and a photo opportunity with the president-elect - to top donors.

STORAGE GAINING GROUND - UtilityDive's Maloney: "Following on the heels of record breaking year, energy storage in 2016 is on track to break through last year's record. The year-over-year increase will likely not be as dramatic as 2015's 243% increase over 2014, but several developments in 2016 show that the storage market is developing in ways that could clear a path for accelerated growth in future years."

BEIJING SMOG GROUNDS 351 FLIGHTS - Bloomberg: "Beijing and other regions of north China were blanketed by the year's worst bout of noxious smog, prompting officials on Tuesday to cancel 351 flight departures from the capital's airport because of limited visibility."

BRITAIN EXPORTS BANNED PESTICIDE - The New York Times' Danny Hakim: "The factory (in Huddersfield, England,) set amid a brick campus in a green and hilly industrial town, recently celebrated its centennial. It produces paraquat, one of the world's most enduring weed killers - but not one that can be purchased in this part of northern England, in the rest of Britain or across the Channel in the rest of the European Union."

INDIA'S ENERGY BRIGHT SPOT - Bloomberg's Anindya Upadhyay: "Those looking for a bright spot in the global warming picture might want to pay closer attention to India. For several years, demand for electricity in the world's second-most populous country has trailed forecasts, data compiled by India's Central Electricity Authority show."

--Oil was up amid sparse pre-holiday trading, the Wall Street Journal reports.

--Natural gas keeps sinking on forecasts of warm weather, the Journal reports.

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