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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by the Independent Power Producers of New York (IPPNY): Mayors say utility dodging taxes; yesterday's refinery is today's megaproject

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

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MAYORS: UTILITY DODGING TAXES — POLITICO New York’s David Giambusso: The New York Conference of Mayors is accusing one of the state's biggest utility companies of shortchanging cash starved municipalities of their rightful tax revenue. In a series of filings with the Public Service Commission the conference of mayors, which represents hundreds of municipal leaders around the state, called on the PSC to weigh in on a controversial tax that utilities and energy companies have to pay to towns when doing business within municipal borders. "What it boils down to is we have cities and villages which have very few sources of non-property tax revenues," said Barbara VanEpps, deputy director of NYCOM. "So we want to ensure that what they're entitled to in gross receipt taxes is actually what is remitted to them."

MEGAPROJECT PITCHED ON FORMER CITY REFINERY SITE — POLITICO New York’s Sally Goldenberg: A group of investors led by Rudy Giuliani's former chief of staff is proposing a multi-million-square-foot development near the Queens waterfront—a mixed-use project that would include a pedestrian bridge connecting Long Island City to Roosevelt Island, POLITICO New York has learned. The project would be built on the grounds of a former oil refinery which has been under remediation for the better part of a decade, including the clearing of 150,000 tons of contaminated soil and the treatment of 97 million gallons of water.

BLOOMBERG: CITIES WILL LEAD THE WAY: Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg writes in Foreign Affairs of his oft-touted belief that cities are the most innovative and most stable societal organizations of our time and will be the ones that come up with the answers to solving climate change. “Climate change calls on societies to act quickly, and cities tend to be more nimble than national governments, which are more likely to be captured or neutralized by special interest groups and which tend to view problems through an ideological, rather than a pragmatic, lens.”

** 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! The conference will feature panel discussions on NY’s Reforming the Energy Vision and the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. Only 4 days remain to take advantage of early bird rates, so Register Now! **


--Pipeline branch on hiatus: The Daily Star reports, “The top executive at Leatherstocking Gas Co. said Tuesday his company is shifting its priorities to Pennsylvania projects after plans to provide natural gas service to Sidney, Delhi, Afton and Bainbridge have been snarled as the result of the state's lengthy review of permit requests by planners of the Constitution Pipeline.”

--Sanitation getting greener: Brooklyn magazine writes glowingly of a new “start/stop” technology the NYC sanitation department is trying that is “designed to significantly cut fuel use and emissions–a brilliant move, considering that the driving pattern of garbage trucks, more than most vehicles, is constant starting and stopping.”

--Where’s our wind? Giambusso reports state legislators, local leaders and a group of environmental advocates on Wednesday urged New Jersey governor Chris Christie to do more to foster offshore wind development.

--Contractor suing LIPA: Newsday’s Mark Harrington reports, “A utility construction company working for LIPA and PSEG Long Island claims the utilities mismanaged a controversial high-voltage cable project through North Hempstead, then shortchanged the firm by at least $1.5 million, according to a new federal lawsuit.”

--Consider the lobster: Also from Harrington, “[Long Island] lobstermen say they are bracing for further restrictions in the wake of a new federal report describing regional lobster populations as ‘severely depleted.’”

SWEET THURSDAY: 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 and/or loved one. Here’s a handy sign-up link:

PENNSYLVANIA ENERGY TOWNS FEELING THE BUST — The Wall Street Journal’s Kris Maher: “As fracking took off [in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania] over the past eight years, so did Gary Bowers’s business supplying everything from Gatorade to replacement valves to crews drilling into natural-gas reserves a mile underground. This year, however, the good times at his firm, Producers Supply Co., came to a screeching halt. Since January, the company’s monthly sales have declined by more than half, as the number of drilling rigs operating in the Marcellus Shale has plummeted to 70 from 131 at the end of last year. 'This thing is spiraling down, and we don’t know how long it’s going to last,' said Mr. Bowers, who expects the rig count to keep falling. 'It’s new territory for Appalachia.' The economic pain from lower oil and gas prices is spreading to small towns and businesses across Pennsylvania and parts of Ohio and West Virginia that had been riding a wave of prosperity from the natural-gas shale boom. Now, companies that cater to drillers, as well as hotels, restaurants and even farmers, are feeling the pinch.”

G.E. LOOKING AT ATLANTA—Bloomberg: “General Electric Co. has held exploratory talks about relocating its headquarters to Atlanta from Connecticut as part of a review of possible new homes, according to people familiar with the matter. GE may meet with developer Tishman Speyer Properties in the coming weeks to discuss space at Three Alliance Center, a 30-story building going up in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood, said the people, who asked not to be identified because details aren’t public. GE is considering other cities and isn’t close to an agreement, the people said. Dallas is also among the markets under study, one of the people said.”

SOLARCITY’S BIG DISTRIBUTION IDEA — Greentech Media: “SolarCity has an idea for how to help California utilities tap their own customers as an integral part of their billion-dollar distribution grid plans: put them first in line. The plan is called a ‘distribution loading order’ — a variation of the state’s longstanding loading order that puts renewables and efficiency ahead of fossil-fuel-fired power for large-scale power procurements and transmission planning. In a white paper this week, SolarCity wrote that the structure could be a key lever for customer-owned distributed energy resources (DERs) to compete for billions of dollars of distribution grid projects being planned by the state’s big three utilities.”

THE WOMAN WHO COULD SAVE THE WORLD: The New Yorker’s Elizabeth Kolbert profiles Christina Figueres, who oversees the Framework Convention on Climate Change, a moving U.N. treaty that seeks to wrangle the nations of the world to ever greater commitments in fighting climate change. “Figueres is five feet tall, with short brown hair and strikingly different-colored eyes—one blue and one hazel. In contrast to most diplomats, who cultivate an air of professional reserve, Figueres is emotive to the point of disarming — ’a mini-volcano’ is how one of her aides described her to me. She laughs frequently — a hearty, ha-ha-ha chortle — and weeps almost as often. ‘I walk around with Kleenex,’ another aide told me.”

EX-EXEC ADMITS GUILT IN W.VA. SPILL—The New York Times: “The former president of a company whose toxic chemical spill contaminated the drinking water of more than 300,000 people last year pleaded guilty Wednesday to environmental crimes. The former president, Gary Southern, the last of six Freedom Industries executives to plead guilty in the case,admitted guilt and negligence in three of the 15 charges against him. He faces up to three years in prison and a fine up to $300,000.”

STREET LIGHTS MAY BE BAD FOR US: The website ‘Fast Coexist’ writes up scientific research indicating streetlights may not prevent accidents or crime and may simply be a needless waste of energy.

THE DOLPHIN WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD—The Daily News: “Underwater naval commandos for Hamas have captured a dolphin spy suspected of working for Israel off the coast of the Gaza Strip, The Jerusalem Post reported. Palestinian officials claimed the 007 dolphin was equipped with surveillance cameras and armed with a dart gun that could have wounded or killed Hamas militia, according to Al-Quds, a Palestinian newspaper.”

REAL ESTATE BOOM AMID CALIFORNIA DROUGHT—The New York Times’ Adam Nagourney: “The drought that has overrun California — forcing severe cutbacks in water for farms, homeowners and businesses ... is forcing communities to balance a robust demand for new housing with concerns that the drought is not cyclical but rather the start of permanent, more arid conditions caused by global warming. At a time when Gov. Jerry Brown has warned of a new era of limits, the spate of construction, including a boom in building that began even before the drought emergency was declared, is raising fundamental questions about just how much additional development California can accommodate. The answer ... is, it seems, plenty.”

MARKEY WILL BACK IRAN DEAL — The Boston Globe: “Senator Edward J. Markey on Wednesday said he would support the Iran nuclear agreement, offering his endorsement on a highly charged issue that has been dividing some Democrats. Markey — a Massachusetts Democrat who took the seat long held by Secretary of State John Kerry, who negotiated the deal — said in a statement provided to the Globe that he believes that the negotiated deal is the best way to ensure Iran doesn’t build a nuclear weapon.”

AFTER REPORT, CALIFORNIA ENERGY BOARD ANNOUNCES MEETING — The Associated Press: “The board tasked with overseeing projects funded by a California ballot measure to generate clean-energy jobs says it will hold its first meeting in early September. Wednesday's announcement comes after The Associated Press reported Monday that the board overseeing projects funded by Proposition 39 had never met and planned its first meeting in October or November.”

CHEAP OIL ROILS ETHANOL — Bloomberg: “Cheap crude oil may make it hard for ethanol companies to pay their bills on time. The lowest oil prices in six years are hitting biofuel producers two ways: They’re making ethanol less attractive as a blend for gasoline, and emboldening the arguments of petroleum backers who say the U.S. law mandating consumption of the fuel alternative is obsolete, Standard & Poor’s Rating Services Inc. said in a report Wednesday.”

$30 OIL IS AROUND THE CORNER—The Wall Street Journal’s Georgi Kantchev: “As U.S. oil fell to a six-year low below $41 a barrel on Wednesday, an increasing number of analysts and traders are saying crude could drop into the $30s—and soon. The move to a price last seen at the height of the financial crisis, in February 2009, could come amid a seasonal falloff in demand, coupled with concerns about the Chinese economy and the continuing global glut of crude. Cheaper oil would bring further joy to consumers and businesses around the globe, but more pain for everyone from Russian budget officials to U.S. shale-oil drillers. It would also test the limits of oil storage facilities around the globe, which are already filling up to the brim.”


--Oil hits new six-year low: The Wall Street Journal reports that new inventory data sent oil futures to a fresh low Wednesday. A barrel of domestic oil could soon sink below $40.

“The benchmark crude-oil price in the U.S. slid 4.3% to $40.80 a barrel, the lowest settlement on the New York Mercantile Exchange since March 2009. Brent, the global benchmark, lost $1.65, or 3.4%, to $47.16 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, the lowest settlement since Jan. 13.”

** A message from IPPNY: Be a part of the REVolution! Learn more about how you can be a part of New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision as New York Public Service Commission Chair Audrey Zibelman and New York Power Authority President & CEO Gil Quiniones give updates on REV 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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