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POLITICO New York Energy: Schumer opposes Iran deal; Flanagan supports LI power line

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

Good morning! Only POLITICO New York Pro subscribers receive this email at 5:30 a.m. each weekday. If you'd like to receive it at that time, 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. We’ll send the same newsletter to non-Pro subscribers at 10 a.m. Thank you for reading.

SCHUMER ANNOUNCES OPPOSITION TO IRAN DEAL—The New York Times’ Jennifer Steinhauer and Jonathan Weisman: “Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the most influential Jewish voice in Congress, said Thursday night that he will oppose President Obama’s deal to limit Iran’s nuclear program. 'Advocates on both sides have strong cases for their point of view that cannot simply be dismissed,' Mr. Schumer said in a lengthy statement. 'This has made evaluating the agreement a difficult and deliberate endeavor, and after deep study, careful thought and considerable soul-searching, I have decided I must oppose the agreement and will vote yes on a motion of disapproval.' With his decision, Mr. Schumer — who has spent the last several weeks meeting with Mr. Obama and other officials and experts like Wendy R. Sherman, the deal’s chief negotiator, and the former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, and carrying a dog-eared copy of the agreement in his briefcase — paves the way for other Democrats on the fence to join Republicans in showing their disapproval.”

--Gillibrand announced earlier Thursday that she was backing the deal: Schumer’s move comes shortly after Senator Kirsten Gillibrand became the first high-ranking New York congressional Democrat to back President Obama's proposed nuclear deal with Iran, saying it would help result in a more peaceful Middle East.

FLANAGAN SUPPORTS LI POWER LINE—POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan supports an 82-mile power cable that would connect Long Island to power producers in New Jersey. The Poseidon project—which would connect Long Island to the nation's largest power grid—would save ratepayers money, the Long Island Republican told Public Service Commission chairwoman Audrey Zibelman in a letter. Flanagan sent the letter in May, a few weeks before he was named majority leader, but it was not made public until Wednesday. “Long Island ratepayers have been burdened for far too long with consistently high energy costs and the Poseidon project will provide the needed flexibility to reduce rates,” Flanagan said. “Lowering costs for ratepayers should be a top priority when considering future energy projects for Long Island.”

STATE FOCUSES ON BUILDING EFFICIENCY—POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority on Thursday awarded $2.3 million in funding for 11 projects throughout the state, such as heating systems that also generate power, LED lighting and battery storage for renewable energy systems. The funding indicates state officials are committed to reducing New York's carbon footprint not just by adding renewables, but also by encouraging more efficiency that reduces demand on the grid, particularly in the summer months.


--The state is investigating whether pollution released into the Genesee River by Eastman Kodak years ago is still in the ecosystem.

--Shoreham solar suit dismissed: Mark Harrington of Newsday reports, “A state Supreme Court justice has dismissed a lawsuit by Shoreham residents seeking to block construction of a 60-acre solar farm in their community, and a lawyer for the developer says construction will start ‘as soon as possible.’”

--Three city councilors joined roughly 50 members of the Communications Workers of America at a rally in advance of a state Public Service Commission hearing Thursday in Syracuse on telecommunications policy.

--City solar installations have tripled, reports Katherine Clark of the Daily News. “Nearly 2,200 city residents were permitted to install solar panels in 2014, compared to just 662 in 2013. And so far in 2015, 1,180 New Yorkers have gotten solar approvals.”

--Two very different takes on the legacy of former Department of Environmental Conservation Joe Martens, one positive from the Times Union’s Fred LeBrun and one from an industry blog that accuses him of “crony capitalism.”

HELLO, FRIDAY: You’ve no doubt noticed by now that we’ve changed our name from Capital New York to POLITICO New York. As you can see our newsletter is the same high-protein breakfast of energy news it always has been. This weekend we encourage you to enjoy the cooler weather, relax and consider what energy and end environment scoops you will share with us next week. Please let us know if you have stories, ideas, complaints or even if you're just lonely. We're always here at and And if you like this letter, please tell a friend.

BEFORE DEBATE, YOUNG G.O.P. TURKS URGE ENERGY-STANCE REFORM: New York Times climate blogger Andrew Revkin reported that hours before Thursday night’s Republican primary debate in Cleveland, hundreds of young conservatives gathered to promote "energy policy reforms that are anathema to most of those who’ll be onstage. These include ending subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, boosting energy efficiency, advancing renewable sources like wind and solar power and moving away from the idea that “drill baby, drill” is a solution. The reception and debate-watching party has been organized by Young Conservatives for Energy Reform, the Christian Coalition of America and the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum. A prime force behind this push is Michele Combs, a longtime Republican and evangelical organizer who founded the national energy reform group in 2012.”

THE OTHER UTILITY DEATH SPIRAL—Utility Dive’s Herman Trabish: “The central lesson for utilities in the talk of a death spiral is if they don’t give their customers what they want, they go elsewhere. To date, that talk is mostly about rooftop solar taking their revenues, but some utilities have begun to notice some of their biggest key accounts looking for greener pastures. Well, greener energy. “This is a new environment. You don’t just build it and shove it in the rate base. There is a more open dialogue. Renewable energy is at the center of that,” explained Altenex Managing Director Duncan McIntyre. Altenex is a broker-procurer of renewables for corporate buyers who want to go green. Discreetly, the company doesn’t talk about who is buying. But the solar and wind industries do.”

TESLA SELLS OUT BATTERIES THROUGH 2016—GreenTech Media’s Julia Pyper: “Tesla has already sold out of all the batteries it could possibly make through the end of next year, Musk said on [Wednesday’s] call. These sales represent $40-50 million in the fourth quarter of 2015, and could be 10 times that amount by the end of next year, according to the executive. ‘That growth rate is probably going to keep going at quite a nutty level, it’s probably at least a few billion dollars in 2017,’ he said. ‘It’s somewhat speculative at this point, but I think that’s likely.’ Tesla has already taken more than 100,000 reservations for more than $1 billion worth of its batteries. ‘And that’s with no marketing, no advertising, no sales force to speak of, it’s basically a presentation, a webcast and three minutes of press Q&A. So there’s probably room to improve,’ Musk said.”

CLEAN POWER PLAN’S UPCOMING LEGAL BATTLES—The National Journal’s Sam Baker: “President Obama wants his 'Clean Power Plan' to stand the test of time—and the many legal challenges coming its way. To give it a better shot of surviving the judicial system, the Environmental Protection Agency has made several important changes to the rule regulating greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants. Among other changes from earlier proposals, the EPA gave states and power plants more time to comply, and offered a more detailed explanation of the rationale for certain provisions. ‘Generally the EPA in the Obama administration … has been aware of potential vulnerabilities and has tried to bulletproof its rules. And that's not something we always expect from the EPA,’ said Jonathan Adler, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University who specializes in EPA cases.”

ACCUSED PA POLAR PRICE GOUGER PAYS MORE—Pittsburgh Post Gazette’s Stephanie Ritenbaugh: “An electric generation supplier has agreed to a settlement to resolve accusations that it deceptively marketed its variable electric rates to Pennsylvania consumers. Many customers filed complaints about rate spikes during the winter of 2014, when the polar vortex descended on the Northeast. Under the settlement, IDT Energy Inc. has agreed to pay $2.4 million in refunds to eligible consumers, in addition to $4.1 million the company has already paid, according to a statement from the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office and the Office of the Consumer Advocate.”

COAL STILL REELING—The New York Times’s James Stewart: “In April 2005, President George W. Bush hailed ‘clean coal’ as a key to ‘greater energy independence,’ pledging $2 billion in research funds that promised a new golden age for America‘s most abundant energy resource. But a decade later, the United States coal industry is reeling as never before in its history, the victim of new environmental regulations, intensifying attacks by activists, collapsing coal prices, and—above all—the rise of cheap alternative fuels, especially natural gas.This week President Obama slammed the industry with tougher-than-expected rules from the Environmental Protection Agency limiting power plant carbon emissions, which will accelerate an already huge shift from coal to natural gas and other alternatives. ‘Clean coal’ remains an expensive and thus far impractical pipe dream.”

VA’S URANIUM FIGHT—The New York Times: “A mining company that wants to tap one of the world's largest uranium deposits sued Virginia on Wednesday to end a decades-long state moratorium on mining the radioactive ore. Virginia Uranium Inc., which puts a market value of $6 billion on the deposit, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court to have the 1982 ban lifted so it can begin mining the 119 million-pound deposit near the North Carolina line.”

PRESIDENTIAL PINK FLOYD SPACE TWEET OF THE DAY: President Obama geeked out on NASA’s time lapse video on Thursday, tweeting, “Pretty incredible time lapse of the dark side of the moon passing Earth from @NASA. American ingenuity at work!”

NRG TOUTS RENEWABLE EFFORTS—EnergyWire’s Edward Klump: “The CEO of NRG Energy Inc. used an earnings call this week to suggest U.S. EPA's plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants shows the wisdom of his company's green strategy. It wasn't too surprising, as David Crane and NRG have been frequent advocates for change in the power sector even while offering critiques of EPA's initial Clean Power Plan. But not long after Crane touted his company's combination of clean energy and conventional generation, questions began to emerge on Tuesday's conference call about NRG's business model. The company's stock is down substantially this year, and the idea of somehow breaking up NRG has been simmering among observers. The independent power producer has significant generation capacity tied to fuels such as natural gas and coal, even as it ventures into new wind and solar projects.”

CHINA BREATHES A LITTLE EASIER: “Beijing has seen more bluish skies this year than in the first half of 2014, according to data from China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection and analyzed by Greenpeace East Asia’s Beijing office. The 189 cities for which Greenpeace crunched data showed an average drop of 16 percent in levels of PM 2.5—particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter that can lodge in the lungs. Beijing’s average PM 2.5 level dropped 15.6 percent, an improvement, though the World Health Organization says its air pollution on most days still greatly exceeds the level deemed safe. The city that reduced PM 2.5 the most—by 42 percent—is Baoji, in Shaanxi province, the heart of coal country.”

THOUGHT $1.3 TRILLION WAS BAD?: Readers of this newsletter will recall the other day it was reported that oil has lost $1.3 trillion in an historic tumble resulting largely from an unforeseen production boom resulting from hydraulic fracturing. The Wall Street Journal reports that over the next three years the losses will reach $4.4 trillion. “That is roughly how much revenue the world’s oil producers will forego over the next three years, based on the current outlook for prices and demand, relative to what was expected just a year ago. With Brent crude having tumbled back below $50 a barrel, the industry has entered a vicious, and spreading, bout of deflation.”


--Oil keeps dropping: Nicole Friedman of The Wall Street Journal reports that the global oil supply glut, combined with the coming end of driving season, sent oil prices ever downward, Thursday.

"Oil prices on Thursday fell 49 cents, or 1.1%, to $44.66 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest settlement since March 19. Prices are less than $2 a barrel above the six-year low of $43.46, reached on March 17 ... Brent, the global benchmark, fell 7 cents, or 0.1%, to $49.52 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe."

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