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POLITICO New York Energy: Should utilities own wind farms? Bag bill is back

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

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ENERGY GROUPS: LETTING UTILITIES OWN WIND FARMS WOULD HURT MARKET—Scott Waldman: A proposal to let utilities own large-scale renewable resources like wind farms, undoing the ban deregulation imposed almost 20 years ago, has galvanized opposition from a broad and unlikely coalition of energy groups that warn it would stifle competition in energy markets and drive away investors. The Public Service Commission is considering the proposal as it remakes the energy grid to accommodate more clean energy. The proposal, if approved, would reverse the ban that forced utilities to sell off large power sources in the 1990s to create a competitive private market and drive down consumer costs. Uniting to oppose the proposal are groups that are sometimes at odds—like the Independent Power Producers of New York, an industry group, and the Alliance for a Clean Energy New York, a clean energy advocacy group.

BAG BILL IS BACK—David Giambusso: City Council members took to the streets Thursday to promote legislation that would impose a 10-cent fee on all plastic bags, a measure designed to discourage plastic bag use citywide. "Everyone agrees we should do something about plastic bags," Councilman Brad Lander said as he and several other members handed out free, reusable canvas bags along Broadway, outside City Hall. Lander, chief sponsor of the legislation, was joined by environmental protection committee chair Costa Constantinides, sanitation committee chair Antonio Reynoso, Councilman Mark Treyger and environmental advocates to drum up support for the bill.

NJ SENATE MOVES ON CHARGING STATIONS—David Giambusso: New Jersey, home to almost as many cars as people, took its first step Thursday toward developing infrastructure for electric car use. In a 25-3 vote, the state Senate approved a bill that would require the New Jersey Transportation Authority to install four charging stations at rest areas along the New Jersey Turnpike, four on the Garden State Parkway and two along the Atlantic City Expressway within the next three years.


--A former executive at the New York Independent System Operator has been hired by a company expected to soon break ground on a large natural gas-fired power plant in the Hudson Valley.

--A new study has found that pipelines are safer than oil trains.

--Tesla takes Manhattan: The Wall Street Journal reports Tesla Motors “is launching a charging-station effort in Manhattan that could spread to other urban areas to make it easier to own a Model S in the city.”

--Is Uber bad for NYC’s environment? Grist asks and seemingly answers ‘yes,’ the question mark headline notwithstanding. “The total number of livery cars in New York has increased from around 40,000 in 2011, when Uber launched there, to more than 63,000 right now. Uber accounts for about 80 percent of that growth, and competitors like Lyft make up the rest.”

--In Teaneck, New Jersey, they’ve developed an evacuation plan if an oil train derails. About 8,000 people will be on the move.

--NJ BPU head moves toward reconfirmation amid wind debate: POLITICO’s Matt Friedman reports.

--The Albany Housing Authority has banned smoking in the housing project next to the facility where oil trains unload and produce air emissions.

--Check out this great photo essay of state DEC officials banding juvenile bald eagles.

--There have been 340 arrests over a proposed propane storage facility in the Finger Lakes.


HAPPY FRIDAY! We made it, energy and environment enthusiasts. Please let us know if you have stories, ideas, complaints or even if you're just lonely. We're always here at and Have yourself a great weekend. You deserve it. And if you like this letter, please tell a friend and/or loved one.

STATES ASK JUDGE TO BLOCK CLEAN POWER PLAN—The Wall Street Journal’s Amy Harder: “Fifteen states asked a federal court Thursday to temporarily block Obama administration carbon regulations while the states mount a full legal challenge against the rules. The move is the first step in what is expected to be a years long court battle over recently completed Environmental Protection Agency rules that call for cutting carbon emissions from power plants 32% by 2030 based on emissions levels from 2005. The rules are the cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s climate agenda. In a petition filed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the states said the court should issue an emergency stay, immediately blocking the rules, because the states face an initial deadline of Sept. 6, 2016, to submit compliance plans to the EPA.”

JUDGE: BP MANIPULATED TEXAS GAS MARKET—The Wall Street Journal: “A U.S. regulatory judge ruled BP PLC manipulated the Texas natural gas market in 2008 and said fines against the British energy company could increase because the scheme took place after earlier market manipulation. The ruling by Carmen A. Cintron, an administrative law judge for the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, found BP flooded a Texas delivery point with natural gas to drive down prices there in the physical market, while at the same time placing trades in related financial markets that would benefit from the reduced price. BP said Thursday it disagreed with the judge’s conclusions and would appeal the decision to the full FERC commission.”

COAL MINING COMMUNITIES NOT GETTING HELP FROM POLITICIANS—Vox’s David Roberts: “Most analysts now agree that the devastation wrought on Appalachian coal in the past several years has been about cheap natural gas, coal seam depletion, competition from cheaper and cleaner Western coal, and poorly run, debt-crippled companies. Obama's purported ‘war on coal’ has at most pushed things along at the margins. Yet suffering coal miners are getting nothing from their self-proclaimed champions. Coal companies are going bankrupt right and left, struggling to renege on their pension promises to those who have given their lives to mines. Legislators from Appalachian coal states, led by Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, have offered nothing but fruitless opposition. They opposed the 2009 cap-and-trade bill, which contained billions in subsidies for coal technology, knowing that the alternative would be EPA carbon regulations. They opposed those EPA regulations and are counseling states to refuse to implement them, knowing that the alternative is a federal implementation plan. They take money from coal barons and pretend that the US coal industry can be revived, which means they don't offer struggling mining communities what they most need: a clear-eyed plan for the inevitable transition away from coal.”

TESLA RAISES CASH—Bloomberg’s Dana Hull: “The decision by Tesla Motors Inc. to sell more shares and raise $500 million gives Elon Musk’s electric-car company a little more breathing room until it can efficiently produce its Model X sport utility vehicle. ‘This takes away the bear argument that Tesla doesn’t have enough cash,’ Ben Kallo, an analyst with Robert W. Baird & Co., said in an interview Thursday. ‘And having Elon buy on the deal, as he’s done in the past, shows his confidence going forward. It takes uncertainty off the table, and you’re seeing the stock trade up a bit today as a result.’ Tesla rose 1.7 percent to $242.10 at 12:56 p.m. New York time. The stock rose 7.1 percent this year through Wednesday, outpacing the 1.7 percent gain by the Russell 1000 Index.”

GREENS PUSH FOR DRILLING DELAY—Fuel Fix: “The government is getting ready to sell drilling rights spanning as much as 22 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico, but environmentalists are campaigning for the White House to call off that auction until Congress reauthorizes a longstanding conservation program funded by offshore oil development. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell already has been touring the country to lobby for a renewal of the 50-year-old Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is set to expire Sept. 30 unless Congress intervenes. But conservationists say the Obama administration needs to up the stakes by putting offshore drilling rights on the line.”

VIDEO OF THE DAY: Check out the largest Great White shark ever caught on video:

UK TO FAST-TRACK FRACKING APPLICATIONS—Bloomberg’s Alex Morales: “The U.K. said it will fast-track planning applications for shale gas in a bid to tap fuel resources that could supply the country for a half-century. Communities Secretary Greg Clark may take over planning decisions from local councils that repeatedly fail to reach a conclusion within 16 weeks, his ministry and the Department of Energy and Climate Change said Thursday. He may also consider appeals on failed applications, they said. ‘To ensure we get this industry up and running, we can’t have a planning system that sees applications dragged out for months or even years on end,’ Energy Secretary Amber Rudd said in an e-mailed statement. ‘We now need, above all else, a system that delivers timely planning decisions and works effectively for local people and developers.’

EXPLAINER OF THE DAY: The Nuclear Energy Institute’s Matthew Wald explains why changes to the PJM market could benefit nuclear.

SOUTH KOREAN SOLAR MANUFACTURER BUILDS IN INDIA—Bloomberg’s Louise Downing: “Hanwha Q Cells Co., the South Korean solar panel manufacturer, agreed to work with Azure Power India Pvt Ltd. to build a solar plant in India that will generate enough electricity to supply 18,000 homes. Construction of the project in Andhra Pradesh will start in October and it’s expected to finish by January, Hanwha said Wednesday in an e-mailed statement. No terms were disclosed. Hanwha also signed a deal to work with Enfinity Philippines Renewable Resources Inc. to build a 28.6-megawatt solar facility in the Philippines. That’s expected to start working in the first quarter.”

CRUDE LOBBYING BONANZA—Quartz’s Steve Levine: “A lobbying blitz is under way to persuade the US Congress to repeal a ban on crude-oil exports. It’s led by oil companies and their usual champions, with intellectual support from an extraordinary union of usually non-oily public commentators, think tanks and editorial boards. Surprising pro-repeal voices include the Aspen Institute, the Brookings Institution, the Council on Foreign Relations, New York Times writer Tom Friedman, Democratic Party financier Steven Rattner and the Washington Post Editorial Board.”

WHAT THEY DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW: The Daily News reports that Edgar Mitchell, the sixth person to walk on the moon, is claiming that during the Cold War, aliens routinely visited Earth to prevent the U.S. and the Soviet Union from destroying each other in a nuclear armageddon. While he offers no proof this happened, there is likewise no proof it didn’t.


--Oil hits fresh, six-year low: Oil’s latest spiral hit a new low Thursday on a combination of weak global demand, a strengthening U.S. dollar, and a glut in global supply.

Light sweet crude for September delivery fell $1.07, or 2.5%, to $42.23 a barrel, slipping below the low for the year set Tuesday and touching its lowest point since March 3, 2009...The global Brent crude contract fell 44 cents, or 0.9%, to $49.22 a barrel Thursday.”

--Natural gas slides as well: Unanticipated supply sent prices down in what should be the commodity’s most bullish season.

“The benchmark U.S. natural gas contract fell 14.4 cents or 4.9% to $2.7870 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the largest one-day price decline in six months and their lowest level in 10 days.”

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