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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign: Cayuga calculation; AARP cool on low-income plan

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 lenglander@politico.com 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.

CAYUGA COAL PLANT RALLIES FRIENDS AND FOES — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: As activists rallied Monday at the Capitol against the Cayuga power plant, its operators pointed to the governor's support of a similarly struggling plant in Western New York in their push to keep the coal-burning plant near Ithaca open. Gov. Andrew Cuomo personally traveled to Western New York to announce that the Dunkirk plant would be repowered with natural gas and spared from closure — but his administration has undertaken no such effort for the Cayuga plant and is now considering its closure. http://politi.co/1NxPTwF

--Opponents of the plant raised an inflatable coal plant in front of the Capitol. http://politi.co/1WP2LBI

AARP: DON’T HURT SOME UTILITY CUSTOMERS TO HELP OTHERS—POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: Programs to help low-income New Yorkers pay their utility bills should not include raising fees for all customers, AARP argued Monday in documents filed with the Public Service Commission. The PSC is exploring ways to help low-income customers pay their utility bills and is considering increasing fees to fund assistance programs. AARP contends such a program could be paid for in other ways. http://politi.co/1Kgaa80

SOLAR POWERING BUFFALO RENAISSANCE—USA Today’s Jon Swartz: “Blue-collar Buffalo is undergoing a high-tech renaissance. From major expansion projects by SolarCity and IBM to a myriad of start-ups, such as virtual dressing room triMirror and social-media app KeepUp, this western New York city of 261,000 is slowly transforming into an attractive destination for tech entrepreneurs. Behind a major initiative by the state government, the city is dangling a more affordable cost of living than the San Francisco Bay Area and New York, reasonable real estate prices, a thriving university system and medical research facility pumping out talented graduates, and its proximity to New York and Toronto to draw young entrepreneurs. Indeed, like its Rust Belt brethren — namely Pittsburgh and Baltimore — Buffalo is emerging from years of financial malaise and attempting to reinvent itself as a tech hotbed. And, like other tech hubs, it is angling for the economic windfall that comes with recruiting young, energetic, smart people.” http://usat.ly/1TWe63X

**A message from Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign: If New York is serious about tackling climate change, than we can no longer afford to keep fossil fuels on life support; having paid $4 million a month since 2013 to keep the uneconomical Cayuga coal-fired plant limping along, electricity bill payers shouldn’t be placed on the hook for $145 million more. Tell Governor Cuomo and his Public Service Commission to stop the Cayuga coal plant bail out. Click here to stop the Cayuga bailout.**

AROUND NEW YORK:

--Landowners win in fracking case: The Village Voice reports that the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling that prevents energy companies that once hoped to frack on lands in Tioga County from extending their leases based on regulatory uncertainty. http://bit.ly/1PNmk8O

--The state has appointed a new Region 1 director for the Department of Environmental Conservation. http://politi.co/1ERSzNE

--SolarCity will host an informational job fair in Buffalo on Wednesday. http://bit.ly/1hX9Lwd

--Investigative Post editor Jim Heaney talks about the financial risks faced by SolarCity. http://bit.ly/1EfQroi

--sPower names new CEO: The solar developer sPower, which is developing solar farms on Long Island, named David Shipley as their new CFO. http://bit.ly/1Nx8toz

--Madison County solar farm facing opposition: A 2.8 megawatt solar farm that would cost the city of Oneida little to nothing to build is facing opposition from local residents who fear it will lower their property values, the Syracuse Post-Standard reports. http://bit.ly/1NxbsNV

--NYC rooftops could be solar gold mine: A Boston-based startup, Mapdwell, claims the rooftops of the city’s 1 million buildings could yield 4.7 gigawatts of solar power. http://bit.ly/1PNRtcb

GOOD TUESDAY TO YOU: Please let us know if you have stories, ideas, complaints or even if you're just lonely. We're always here at dgiambusso@politico.com and swaldman@politico.com. And if you like this letter, please tell a friend and/or loved one. Here’s a handy sign-up link: politi.co/1UqoEoB

OBAMA BRINGS CLEAN ENERGY TO NEVADA — The Washington Post’s Chris Mooney: “Nevada is an apt place for Obama to begin a renewed focus on clean energy and climate. The state has been dubbed the “Saudi Arabia of solar” and has recently shown the growth to prove it. Solar jobs in the state increased from 2,400 in 2013 to to 5,900 in 2014, a 146 percent increase, according to the Solar Foundation. On a per capita basis, sunny Nevada now has more solar jobs than any other state (though neighboring California’s solar industry is far bigger overall). And no wonder: It has vast solar potential. In 1999, one Energy Department scientist even calculated that covering 10,000 square miles of the desert north of here with solar panels could power the entire United States.” http://wapo.st/1JsfOie

REID BACKING BOOSTS IRAN CHANCES — The Associated Press: “With Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid on board, the nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers is picking up momentum to survive fierce opposition from Republican and Israeli opponents. A day after Reid’s announcement that he will back the deal pushed by President Barack Obama, Michigan Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow threw her support behind the agreement too ... Stabenow became the 28th Senate Democratic supporter of the deal, pushing backers closer to the 34 votes they would need to sustain Obama’s veto of any resolution of disapproval.” http://wapo.st/1PNT6qh

GE CUTS JOBS AMID OIL CRISIS—The Wall Street Journal’s Ted Mann: “General Electric Co. plans to close a historic foundry and eliminate more than 250 jobs at its oil-field services unit in Lufkin, Texas, as the company deals with a drop in demand for drilling equipment in the wake of plunging oil prices. GE told local officials on Monday that the company will close one foundry in the city and cut jobs at another facility nearby. The two facilities were part of Lufkin Industries, a maker of oil-pumping and drilling equipment that GE bought for $3.3 billion in 2013.” http://on.wsj.com/1Ji1Brc

HOLD THE SALAD: The Washington Post’s Tamar Haspel writes that not only are most salads nutritionally bankrupt, but lettuce takes up precious acreage and requires refrigeration that other veggies do not. “Lettuce is a vehicle to transport refrigerated water from farm to table. When we switch to vegetables that are twice as nutritious — like those collards or tomatoes or green beans — not only do we free up half the acres now growing lettuce, we cut back on the fossil fuels and other resources needed for transport and storage. Save the planet, skip the salad.” http://wapo.st/1NwPjPG

REPORT: EARTH LOSING INDIA-SIZED TROPICAL FOREST: The Washington Post’s Chelsea Harvey reports on a new study indicating the planet will have lost a chunk of tropical forest the size of India by 2050 if deforestation practices aren’t curbed. Forests, of course, are nature’s carbon capture technology and the more earth loses the more carbon is emitted into the atmosphere. “A new report from the Center for Global Development, released Monday, warns of what will happen if world leaders don’t take stronger steps to cut down on deforestation — that is, if we follow a ‘business-as-usual’ trajectory. By 2050, they estimate, an area of forest equal to the size of India will be lost. The researchers came to their conclusions by using published satellite data on global forest cover from 2001 to 2012 to assess current rates of deforestation around the world.” http://wapo.st/1Nx6DEn

CHENIERE ADDS ICAHN — The Houston Business Journal: “Houston-based Cheniere Energy Inc. has appointed two managing directors from Icahn Capital LP, a subsidiary of Icahn Enterprises LP, to its board of directors. The appointment comes shortly after billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn, CEO of the New York-based companies, purchased an 8.18 percent stake in Cheniere, amounting to 19.4 million shares.” http://bit.ly/1Nx9Cg2

MAYORS TO PARIS: The National League of Cities reports, “A coalition of U.S. mayors and city officials announced [Monday] that they will join the UN Conference of Parties (COP) meeting in Paris in December to showcase their cities' climate leadership and call for an ambitious international agreement that addresses our climate crisis and supports further action at the local level. This group of mayors, called the Local Climate Leaders Circle, includes mayors of Atlanta, Boulder, Chula Vista, Columbus, Des Moines, Grand Rapids, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, West Palm Beach, and councilmembers from Santa Monica and King County, Wash.” http://bit.ly/1PNTipu

CHENEY TO SPEAK ON IRAN DEAL: Former Vice President Dick Cheney is scheduled to deliver a speech on the Iran nuclear deal brokered by President Obama next month at the American Enterprise Institute. Spoiler: he’s not a fan. http://politi.co/1PNU5Xi

TEXAS SOLAR BOOM — Wall Street Journal’s Russell Gold: “A new energy boom is taking shape in the oil fields of west Texas, but it’s not what you think. It’s solar. Solar power has gotten so cheap to produce — and so competitively priced in the electricity market — that it is taking hold even in a state that, unlike California, doesn’t offer incentives to utilities to buy or build sun-powered generation. Pecos County, about halfway between San Antonio and El Paso and on the southern edge of the prolific Permian Basin oil field, could soon play host to several large solar-energy farms responsible for about $1 billion in investments, according to state tax records.” http://on.wsj.com/1UXo0PQ

CHINA MAY HAVE OVERESTIMATED EMISSIONS—Climate Central: “Carbon dioxide emissions in China may have been overestimated since 2000 because of conflicting estimates of the greenhouse gas emissions it produces and the carbon content of the coal it burns, a Harvard-led study published Wednesday shows. Overestimated emissions may be critical for China ahead of the upcoming Paris climate negotiations in December. China struck a pact with the United States in 2014, pledging to peak its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and increase its use of clean energy to around 20 percent of its total energy production by 2030.” http://bit.ly/1Ji0Yhv

SAUDIS CONSIDER RESTRAINT — The Wall Street Journal: “The plunge in global oil prices has eroded an important pillar of Saudi Arabia’s strategy of pumping freely to grab global market share: Demand growth that once looked solid doesn’t look so steady anymore, mainly due to concerns about China. That has again raised a question at the heart of oil markets for more than a year: Could the world’s largest exporter of oil move to restrain production in hopes of stabilizing prices? Even before the general market rout extended into Monday, falling oil prices had sparked renewed calls from Algeria for the Organization of the Oil Exporting Countries to reverse course and discuss production cuts.” http://on.wsj.com/1JsvMJp

FUTURES:

--You really want to know? Oil plunged to new six-year lows Monday amid questionable Chinese demand, abundant supply and general market malaise.

“Brent, the global oil benchmark, fell through its January lows to trade below $45 a barrel for the first time in six years. Brent settled down $2.77, or 6.1%, at $42.69 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, the lowest settlement since March 2009. The U.S. oil benchmark settled down $2.21, or 5.5%, at $38.24 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the first settlement below $40 a barrel since February 2009.” http://on.wsj.com/1JswaYg

--Natural gas dips: As the dog days melt away, natural gas futures cooled off. Nicole Friedman of the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Futures for September delivery settled down 2.6 cents, or 1%, to $2.65 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest settlement since June 5.” http://on.wsj.com/1Ji4Crv

**A message from Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign: The Public Service Commission has already approved millions of dollars to prop up the dirty, outdated Cayuga coal-fired power plant. Now they are considering spending $145 million more of our hard-earned money to let this plant continue polluting New York’s air and water. For a fraction of this amount we can make sure that the region has reliable power while workers and communities are protected through the transition to modern, clean energy sources. With the increasing cost of coal and a shrinking industry, the time for change in New York is now. Tell Governor Cuomo that we need to stop bailing out coal plants and take the steps needed to lead the renewable energy transition. Your comments are a key part of making it clear: New Yorkers know that it’s time to act on climate and we can start by ending the bail out of coal right here in our state. Click here to tell Governor Cuomo to stop the coal bailouts and support renewable energy.**

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