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POLITICO New York Energy: Gas trucking boom -- Offshore wind set -- Gas storage rejected

By Marie J. French | 07/13/2018 09:59 AM EDT

NAT GAS TRUCKING BOOM — POLITICO's Marie J. French: Demand for natural gas and the challenges building new pipelines are pushing utilities and businesses to consider shipping gas by truck. The Cayuga coal plant, which wants to switch one unit to natural gas, says it would truck in fuel rather than try to build a pipeline. Con Edison wants to solicit proposals to, among other things, have suppliers ship in natural gas by truck to meet growing demand for fuel in New York City. Environmental advocates say the trucks pose a risk to local communities and want the state to provide more regulatory oversight of these "virtual pipeline" projects. The Sierra Club's Lisa Dix said the group has started to examine the issue of "bomb trucks" since Cayuga announced it wanted to repower a unit with natural gas and would ship it by truck. "We haven't been able to pin down any oversight that exists, which is really frightening to those communities," she said. Compressed natural gas, which is lighter than air, can be shipped directly to a customer or injected into a pipeline. Utilities may turn to compressed natural gas services to meet high demand during the coldest days of winter. Businesses seeking to take advantage of the low price of natural gas compared with oil, but unable to get pipeline service, are also potential customers for companies that supply natural gas via truck. Building pipelines in New York has become difficult. Environmental activists are pushing to block all new fossil fuel infrastructure. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has rejected multiple interstate pipelines, and these challenges have led utilities and businesses to seek alternatives. (On Thursday, Republicans in the U.S. Senate criticized states for trying to block new pipelines and said the federal government might have to exert more authority over the approval process.) Read more here.

OFFSHORE WIND PROCUREMENT SET — by Marie: The state's utility regulator has approved a mechanism for electricity ratepayers to begin subsidizing offshore wind projects to help support Gov. Andrew Cuomo's renewable goals in the coming years. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority will issue the first procurement for offshore wind projects by the end of 2018, marking a significant step for Cuomo's goal of getting 2,400 megawatts of the resource by 2030. The Public Service Commission endorsed that mandate in an order on Thursday, noting that offshore wind would be located close to the high-demand, high-cost center of the New York City area and could provide about a third of the needed new resources to achieve Cuomo's target of getting 50 percent of electricity from renewables by 2030. Read more here.

— Low income community solar: The Public Service Commission approved a proposal to let low-income customers use their bill discounts to pay subscription fees to participate in renewable energy projects. The Energy Democracy Alliance, a coalition of community groups and environmental advocates, was not impressed and said the state needs to fix its value of distributed energy resources effort. Read more here.

— Con Ed gas plans: The Public Service Commission approved a small piece of Con Edison's proposal to deal with growing demand for natural gas in the New York City area amid limited pipeline capacity, while delaying a decision on a proposal to seek third-party solutions. "Enhanced energy efficiency programs to reduce overall natural gas usage will help meet customer needs," said Con Ed spokesman Michael Clendenin in a statement. "Our proposal included other programs that are equally important to meeting gas customers' needs and our environmental goals." Read more here.

— Also at the meeting: The commission approved a rate increase for the about 1,500 customers served by SUEZ in Owego and Tioga County. The rate case was complicated by the closure of a major manufacturer which accounted for about 50 percent of the company's water demand. The company will see its revenues increase 10 percent annually under the approved three-year rate plan. To address high interest from the cryptocurrency mining community in the low prices for power in upstate New York, the commission approved allowing Massena to reach individual agreements with Bitcoin miners looking to set up shop. The use of such agreements will let Massena take advantage of benefits such operations might provide like using excess power or underutilized transmission. Bloomberg reported on the decision. The PSC also ordered a lawsuit be filed to prepare for more potential penalties against New York American Water, which deceived the regulator about property taxes.

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

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GAS STORAGE OPPONENTS REJOICE — by Marie: Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration has rejected a proposal to store propane in old salt caverns near Seneca Lake, after nearly a decade of delay. Read more here.

AROUND NEW YORK:

— The Department of Defense released a draft report showing that Stewart Air National Guard Base and a stream carrying discharges from the base to the City of Newburgh's shuttered primary water supply have significant levels of a toxic chemical associated with numerous health problems.

— City Council Speaker Corey Johnson trashed the city's private carting oversight body on NY1 on Thursday and questioned whether the de Blasio administration's preliminary waste collection plan goes far enough.

— The New York Times discovers community solar and focuses on the benefits for apartment dwellers in the city.

— Continental Building Products plans to install the state's largest rooftop solar system on its manufacturing facility, across from the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan.

— NYISO presented stakeholders details on how a carbon charge would affect locational-based marginal prices and imports and exports.

— Development of large-scale solar projects are prohibited in the town of Canton for the next six months under a moratorium adopted Wednesday night by the town board.

— Cicadas are the culprit killing trees in central New York.

— The Chautauqua County Planning Board tabled its decision on allowing wind turbines to reach 599 feet, taller than any land-based turbines in the country.

— A growing number of tax-delinquent, possibly contaminated properties in St. Lawrence County are being cleaned up and placed back on the tax rolls.

— Developer and investor Distributed Sun and wind turbine firm Emergya Wind Technologies have sold off 75 MW of community solar projects they were co-developing in New York.

— More than 300 acres of pristine land on French Mountain will be protected from development with the Lake George Land Conservancy agreeing to purchase the property for a half-million dollars.

— Harmful algal blooms have already been identified on Cayuga Lake this summer and some beaches are currently closed as officials await water sample results.

— Residents should not swim or wade in Fresh Pond on Shelter Island because the water contains a new cyanobacteria bloom, also known as blue-green algae.

ACROSS THE RIVER:

— A proposal to build a power plant on the Musconetcong River has obtained an exemption from Highlands rules but faces a bigger hurdle in complying with state water quality regulations.

RENEWABLE GAS — Bloomberg's Naureen S. Malik: "As green groups pressure the natural gas industry to clean up its act, an alternative to the fossil fuel is emerging in some unlikely places: pig farms and sewers." Read more here.

EXXON QUITS ALEC — Bloomberg's Kevin Crowley and Ari Natter: "Exxon Mobil Corp. quit the American Legislative Exchange Council, a lobbying group bankrolled by fossil fuel companies, following a disagreement over climate-change policy." Read more here.

SOUTH CAROLINA SOLAR WOES — The State's Sammy Fretwell: "South Carolinians interested in using solar energy to save money on their power bills suffered a setback Wednesday when Duke Energy said it had reached a state limit on solar energy expansion in western South Carolina. Reaching the limit means favorable rates for new solar customers likely won't be available after July 31." Read more here.

OIL OUTAGES LOOM — The Wall Street Journal's Benoit Faucon: "Global oil outages may push spare production capacity to the limit, a top energy body warned Thursday, hinting it would be ready to tap its emergency supplies if needed." Read more here.

PREPA BOARD RESIGNS — The Wall Street Journal's Andrew Scurria: "A majority of the Puerto Rico power monopoly's board of directors resigned Thursday, alleging political interference after top lawmakers and Puerto Rico's governor demanded cuts to a chief executive compensation package." Read more here.

IRELAND DIVESTS — The Guardian's Damian Carrington: "The Republic of Ireland will become the world's first country to sell off its investments in fossil fuel companies, after a bill was passed with all-party support in the lower house of parliament." Read more here.

U.S. HITS ENERGY SANCTION VIOLATIONS — The Wall Street Journal's Ian Talley: "The Trump administration asked a United Nations panel this week to ban oil-product sales to North Korea this year, calling out China and Russia for exports Washington alleges have often been in violation of the international body's sanctions against Pyongyang, according to people familiar with the matter." Read more here.

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