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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by the Independent Power Producers of New York (IPPNY): NY pushes LED lighting, RGGI states will exceed EPA restrictions

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.

STATE PUSHES LED LIGHTING TO REDUCE DEMAND—POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: The state wants to increase LED lighting in municipalities throughout New York to increase energy efficiency and reduce demand on the electric grid. The Public Service Commission on Thursday approved a plan that would allow Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. to provide LED lights for municipalities in its coverage area. It’s the start of a more-aggressive state push to install energy-efficient lighting throughout towns and villages that use less energy and save taxpayer money. It will help New York’s electric grid become more efficient by encouraging utilities to install LED lights, which are expensive but use far less energy than traditional street lights.

NY, OTHER RGGI STATES WILL EXCEED EPA RESTRICTIONS—Bloomberg’s Gerald Silverman: “Six of the nine states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) are on track to meet or come close to meeting by 2020 the federal Clean Power Plan's mass-based goals for 2030, according to an analysis by Bloomberg BNA. Only Maryland and Maine are not on schedule to meet the 2030 goal by 2020, when the current RGGI carbon dioxide emissions trading program is set to expire for the nine participating Northeastern states, according to the analysis. In addition, every RGGI state except Maine will meet or come close to meeting by 2020 the Clean Power Plan's two-year targets for 2022-24, under the current RGGI schedule of CO2 emissions reductions. There is no mass-based target for Vermont because the state doesn't have any power plants that qualify as electricity generating units under the federal plan.”

PINELANDS PIPELINE SPARKS FUROR—POLITICO New Jersey’s David Giambusso: A seemingly minor procedural move by the executive director of the New Jersey Pinelands Commission could be the first shot in a protracted battle over a proposed gas pipeline that would cut through one of the state's most prized ecological treasures. Nancy Wittenberg approved a "certificate of filing" during Friday's commission meeting that designates the 22-mile pipeline proposed by South Jersey Gas as a private development, meaning it could be approved by commission staff with limited public input and without a vote from the commissioners themselves. As a result of Friday's decision, the state Board of Public Utilities, which Gov. Chris Christie controls, will vote on the pipeline. Wittenberg's move elicited immediate fury from environmental leaders and skepticism from elected officials. "Today's action is significant for two reasons," said Carleton Montgomery, head of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance. "It is a step in the approval of the project and it is a 180-degree reversal of the findings by the same individual [Wittenberg]."


--The number of oil trains at the Port of Albany has dropped slightly due to scaled down operations in the Bakken fields of North Dakota.

--Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said he will join with a coalition of attorneys general to defend in court the Obama administration’s plan to reduce power plant emissions.

--The average cost to install solar panels on a home in the Capital Region is about $14,000.

--B&H Dairy reopens after gas blast: One of New York City’s oldest and most famous proprietors of kosher food is back after being shuttered in the wake of the East Village gas explosion.

GOOD MONDAY MORNING: Welcome to another wacky week of energy policy and politics. 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.

**A message from IPPNY: Join us for Power Source, our 30th Annual Fall Conference on September 22 at the Gideon Putnam Resort in Saratoga Springs! This year’s conference features panel discussions on NY’s Reforming the Energy Vision and the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. See our full agenda here! **

OIL EXPORT BAN LIFTS, SLIGHTLY—New York Times’ Clifford Krauss: “The Obama administration on Friday gave oil companies temporary permission to export a limited amount of oil to Mexico at a time when a glut is cutting into domestic petroleum profits and employment. The decision by the Commerce Department fell short of removing a ban on crude exports that goes back to the 1970s, when international oil boycotts produced long lines at gasoline stations and threatened the American economy. It also does not make a broad national security exception for Mexico, which has long existed for Canada, to release larger-scale exports. But support for an end to the ban is growing in Congress among Republicans and Democrats from oil states like Texas. The administration has been reluctant to remove the ban, although it has already given permission over the last two years to American producers to sell some extra-light forms of crude, called condensates, on a limited basis.”

OBAMA’S QUIET WAR ON OIL—POLITICO’S Elana Schor: “President Barack Obama’s enemies have long accused him of waging a ‘war on coal.’ But a very different war on oil and gas is coming next. The newest phase of Obama’s environmental agenda has the oil and natural gas industry in its crosshairs, with plans to curb greenhouse gas pollution from rigs and refineries, tighten oversight of drilling on public lands and impose a strict ozone limit that industry lobbyists slam as ‘the most expensive regulation ever.’ The administration still might hand some modest victories to the industry along the way—as early as Friday, for example, the Interior Department may give Shell Oil a final green light for expanded drilling off Alaska’s Arctic coast. And unlike the massive climate rule that the EPA issued for power plants last week, the administration’s actions on oil and gas will be quieter, more piecemeal and harder to track. Still, the oil industry’s top lobbying group says it’s facing a ‘regulatory avalanche or a tidal wave’—one that some of Obama’s critics have been bracing for.”

FLAKE FLAKES—POLITICO’s Nahal Toosi: “It doesn’t look like President Barack Obama will get to claim ‘bipartisan support’ for the Iran nuclear deal, either. On Saturday, Sen. Jeff Flake, possibly the only Republican in Congress open to supporting the agreement, said he won’t. The Arizonan, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued a lengthy statement explaining that he could not back the internationally negotiated deal because he believed it constrains the United States’ ability to punish Iran in the future for its non-nuclear aggression in the Middle East.”

--Carson: Iran deal means Obama as anti-Semitic: Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said on Fox News Sunday, “I think anything is anti-Semitic if it's against the survival of a state that is surrounded by enemies and by people who want to destroy them ... And to sort of ignore that and to act like everything is normal there and that these people are paranoid is anti-Semitic."

FRACKING HOT SPOT—The Guardian’s Jeffrey Barbee: “Shirley ‘Sug’ McNall is leaning up against a fence staring at a natural gas well about 40 meters from a playground behind the primary school where her daughter used to teach in Aztec, New Mexico. She believes that the gas industry and the explosion of fracking in her state is responsible for serious impacts on local air quality which are affecting people’s health. Her fears were boosted last year when Nasa satellites identified a methane bubble over Aztec visible from space. The bubble suggests that during drilling and production, the natural gas industry is not capturing all of the gas they unlock from deep in the ground and significant amounts of this methane and other chemicals are leaking into the sky. McNall believes that other, more dangerous gasses are being released too. Northern New Mexico’s San Juan County has been the centre of intense fossil fuel extraction for decades. Here, oil, gas and coal are all pulled out of the ground. Until now, many people blamed only the coal for the bad air. That was before people like McNall and three of her friends—who call themselves the ‘Four Grams’—got involved and started waking people up to the danger of the 20,000 wells in their community.”

OPINION: THE GREEN SCARE PROBLEM—Matt Ridley for the Wall Street Journal: “President Obama’s plan to cut U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions from electricity plants by 32% (from 2005 levels) by 2030 would cut global emissions by about 2%. By that time, according to Energy Information Administration data analyzed by Heritage Foundation statistician Kevin Dayaratna, the carbon plan could cost the U.S. up to $1 trillion in lost GDP. The measures needed to decarbonize world energy are going to be vastly more expensive. So we had better be sure that we are not exaggerating the problem. But it isn’t just that environmental threats have a habit of turning out less bad than feared; it’s that the remedies sometimes prove worse than the disease.”

VIDEO OF THE DAY: Meet Taylor Wilson who, at 14, built a nuclear fusion reactor in his garage.

CLEAN COAL PLANT STRUGGLING—Bloomberg’s Mark Chediak: “Mississippi regulators threw a lifeline to Southern Co.’s financially troubled clean-coal power project by temporarily raising customer bills 18 percent for a facility whose backers include the U.S. government. Southern’s request to raise rates by $159 million a year was approved on a 2-1 vote by the Mississippi Public Service Commission at a meeting Thursday. The facility in Kemper County would be the first large-scale plant in the U.S. to turn coal into a gas to generate power while capturing carbon dioxide to pump underground. The coal industry was banking on the plant to show the way forward in developing cleaner-burning technologies. The plant has been plagued by delays and is now expected to cost $6.2 billion, almost three times original estimates.”

VIDEO OF THE DAY, PART 2: Watch a Russian river catch on fire after a pipeline ruptured underneath it.

BURGER FLIPPING ROBOTS ON THE MARCH: The Washington Post reports that with the idea of a $15 minimum wage gaining traction nationally, fast food “restaurateurs” are seeing robots as a more cost effective alternative to paying workers more money. We leave you to parse the comment of one fast food consultant, who said, “My position is pay your people properly, keep them longer, treat them right, and robots are going to be helpful in doing that, because it will help the restaurateur survive.”


--Gasoline surges, oil sputters: The close of business last week saw a dramatic surge in the price of gasoline at the pump with several refineries shut down. But the same shut down continued to depress oil price, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Gasoline for September delivery settled Friday down 2.72 cents, or 1.6%, at $1.6869 a gallon. It ended the week up 3.9%, largely thanks to a three-day 8.7% rally that sent gasoline on Wednesday to its highest level this month.

“Light, sweet crude for September delivery fell Friday to a fresh six-year low in intraday trading, touching $41.35 a barrel. It flipped later in the morning and settled up 27 cents, or 0.6%, at $42.50 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.”

**A message from IPPNY: We are examining the Evolution of Energy Policies and Emerging Technologies at our 30th Annual Fall Conference! Assisting us in this endeavor will be Audrey Zibelman, Chairman of the New York Public Service Commission, and Gil Quiniones, President & CEO of the New York Power Authority, to give updates on the State’s Reforming the Energy Vision proceeding and other energy initiatives. IPPNY is also pleased to have Angela O’Connor, Chairman of the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, delivering the keynote address. To discuss REV and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan in more detail will be panelists from the New York Independent System Operator, National Grid, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, NY Smart Grid Consortium, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, and the NYS Energy Research & Development Authority. Register today to make sure you are part of the discussion! **

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