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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by Direct Energy: Climate week begins -- FERC vs. DEC -- RESA defends ESCOs -- Czar bashes solar tariffs

By Katherine Landergan and David Giambusso | 09/18/2017 09:58 AM EDT

FERC OVERRULES DEC ON MILLENNIUM — POLITICO New York's Marie J. French: Federal regulators have overruled the state's denial of a key permit for a natural gas pipeline to supply the CPV Valley power plant in Orange County, clearing a major hurdle to construction of the pipeline. FERC on Friday ruled that the Department of Environmental Conservation waived its authority to approve or deny a water quality permit for the Millennium Pipeline Co.'s Valley Lateral project. FERC's ruling says the state agency missed its statutory one-year deadline to act on the permit under federal law. Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration denied permits for the pipeline on August 30, in a somewhat novel argument: The agency argued that FERC had failed to consider the greenhouse gas emissions from the pipeline's end-user, the $900 million CPV Valley plant. States have won increasing leeway under the Clean Water Act to overrule FERC approvals of pipelines if they have a deleterious effect on water and wetlands. The climate change argument was offered as a an extension of that authority. FERC's ruling may render that decision largely moot. Michelle Hook, a spokeswoman for the pipeline company, said a notice to proceed with construction would be filed with the federal regulator next week. Read more here.

RESA DEFENDS ESCOs — Albany Times Union's Larry Rulison: "Retail utility service suppliers known as ESCOs — energy service companies — argue that New York state's continued fight against them is harmful to the state's energy markets. The Retail Energy Supply Association, a leading trade group for ESCOs, made the case in testimony being filed Friday with the state Public Service Commission as part of an ongoing review of the ESCO market. 'Removing ESCOs from the mass market and improving price controls would destabilize and harm the New York power market,' says a summary of RESA's testimony provided to the Times Union ahead of its submission. The Cuomo administration has sought to crack down on unscrupulous ESCOs in the wake of allegations that firms were taking advantage of elderly and low income customers and moving them out of cheap introductory pricing to more expensive plans." Read more here.

CZAR BASHES SOLAR TARIFFS — Albany Times Union's Larry Rulison: "New York's energy czar says that new tariffs that would raise the price of imported solar panels would devastate the state's growing solar installation industry if approved by federal regulators. The U.S. International Trade Commission is considering a request from a bankrupt company called Suniva to impose high tariffs on the import of solar panels to protect U.S.-based manufacturers. A decision is expected soon. However, solar installers, who typically rely on cheap imported solar panels, say the move would destroy their profitability and business models. New York state has structured its incentives for solar installers around the current pricing, and Richard Kauffman, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's energy 'czar,' says the ITC must not approve the tariffs." Read more here.

GOOD MONDAY MORNING: Let us know if you have tips, story ideas or life advice. We're always here at dgiambusso@politico.com and mfrench@politico.com.

And if you like this letter, please tell a friend and/or loved one they can sign up here.

** A message from Direct Energy: According to newly released data, New Yorkers could have saved billions since 2011 on their energy costs. How? It's simple. If consumers shop for rates using an ESCO, they save money on their energy bills. For more answers on why New Yorkers need ESCOs, click here: www.NewYorkEnergyAnswers.com **

AROUND NEW YORK:

— Watch top cleantech startups in New York pitch investors on Sept. 27.

— Newsday's Mark Harrington reports on how party boat anglers caught dumping illegal fish in Montauk Harbor.

— $8.6M in possible FEMA funding for Schenectady's historic Stockade neighborhood is on hold.

— The DEC has reopened the Black Pond Wildlife Management Area which has been closed since June due to flooding, erosion and a damaged boardwalk.

— The Champlain Canalway Trail is allotted to get $12 million in state improvement money as part of the governor's larger, Empire State Trail plan.

— A fire in Fort Ann destroyed two barns and an undetermined number of livestock.

TRUMP BALKS ON PARIS WITHDRAWAL — The Wall Street Journal's Emre Parker: "The Trump administration is considering staying in the Paris agreement to fight climate change 'under the right conditions,' offering to re-engage in the international deal three months after President Donald Trump said the U.S. would pull out if it didn't find more favorable terms. During a climate-change meeting Saturday of more than 30 ministers led by Canada, China and the European Union, in Montreal, U.S. officials broached revising U.S. climate-change goals, two participants said, signaling a compromise that would keep the U.S. at the table even if it meant weakening the international effort." Read more here.

— National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster on Sunday shot down a Wall Street Journal story reporting that the U.S. would remain the Paris climate accord despite President Donald Trump's announcement in June that he would pull the country out. "That's a false report," McMaster told Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday." "The president decided to pull out of the Paris accord because it was a bad deal for the American people and a bad deal for the environment," POLITICO's Theodoric Meyer reports.

— But Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, actually, they could rejoin the deal "under the right conditions," Reuters reports. Just as long as everyone is clear.

IRMA FALLOUT — The Washington Post's Steven Mufson and Brady Dennis: "First Hurricane Irma blew through. Then the electricity went out. Then a work crew made an error while working on a pump station in the sewage system. And soon, 2,000 gallons of raw sewage was spilling onto a quiet residential street of ranch houses in Edgewater, a town south of Daytona Beach." Read more here.

— The Washington Post's Chelsea Harvey: "As residents of the Southeast are returning home and assessing the damage left by Hurricane Irma, Florida scientists are anxiously waiting to evaluate the storm's impact on one of the state's most valuable — and vulnerable — ecosystems: the Everglades." Read more here.

RENEWABLES BILL STUCK IN CALIFORNIA — GreenTech Media's Emma Foehringer Merchant "California's pitch for 100 percent renewable energy is dead — for now. In the last week of its legislative session, California bills that laid out plans for a 100 percent renewable grid by 2045 and a remake of the state's grid into a regional system floundered." Read more here.

ARCTIC INFLUENCE —The Washington Post's Chelsea Harvey: "In the devastating wake of back-to-back hurricanes Harvey and Irma, climate scientists are discussing the link between climate change and extreme storms with renewed vigor. And on some points, they widely agree — for instance, many researchers believe a warmer atmosphere will produce hurricanes with stronger rainfall. But other theories about climate change and extreme weather are far more controversial. And now, recent events have once again raised one of the biggest debates in climate science — that is, whether the rapidly warming Arctic may be influencing the tracks of hurricanes and other weather patterns around the world." Read more here.

UBS BOOSTING CLIMATE RESOLUTIONS — Bloomberg's Emily Chasan: "UBS Group AG increased its backing of shareholder climate resolutions this year, according to Christopher Greenwald, head of sustainable investing research at UBS Asset Management." Read more here.

INACCURATE CLIMATE CHANGE REPORTING — The New York Times' Henry Fountain: "A self-policing group within the British news industry has forced the tabloid The Mail on Sunday to acknowledge that an article it published asserting that climate researchers in the United States had manipulated data was inaccurate and misleading." Read more here.

BASELOAD BOOSTING IMPORTANT TO NEW FERC — UtilityDive's Gavin Bade: "Perceived threats to the reliability of the bulk power system could push federal energy regulators to take action to support baseload generators, the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission told lawmakers Thursday, but it is too early for specifics on potential policies." Read more here.

VALERO PLANT RELEASES MORE TOXINS THAN THOUGHT, POST-HARVEY — The Wall Street Journal's Alexandra Berzon: "The chemical plant that released a cloud of a carcinogenic chemical amid Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath in Houston's Manchester neighborhood in August emitted far more of the chemical than it had previously disclosed, environmental regulators said Thursday." Read more here.

FUTURES:

— Oil did little of note Friday as investors grappled with mixed market signals, The Wall Street Journal reports.

** A message from Direct Energy: New Yorkers deserve the best energy products and services in the market. That's why New Yorkers need ESCOs.

Why? Because ESCOs use the latest energy technology and data to save customers money and help them manage their energy use. ESCOs offer the most efficient energy products - including countless renewable energy options - that continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of residential and business consumers.

However, new regulations could stifle ESCOs' innovation and limit investment. Competition is necessary to ensure the most efficient products are made available to consumers. ESCOs bring consumers better products, more energy savings, and many renewable options for consumers to choose from in the competitive energy market. For more answers on why New Yorkers need ESCOs, click here: www.NewYorkEnergyAnswers.com **

To view online:
http://www.politico.com/states/new-york/tipsheets/politico-new-york-energy/2017/09/18/climate-week-begins-008576

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