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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign: What to do after Huntley; flood money

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.

WHAT’S THE PLAN? — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: Western New York labor leader Richard Lipsitz has been planning for the expected retirement of the Huntley coal-burning power plant for more than a year. In recent years, the plant in Tonawanda had cut dozens of jobs and reduced its payments in lieu of taxes by millions of dollars. So Lipsitz, president of the Western New York Area Labor Federation, and a coalition of environmental and labor groups began planning for the inevitable — which came on Tuesday, when NRG announced that Huntley would be closed in March. Now, Lipsitz and his coalition are trying to figure out how to account for the loss of $6 million in revenue and 79 jobs by putting job training and facility reuse plans in place. He said the financial loss of Huntley will be especially difficult if has to come from local taxpayers, and it could mean more job losses. That’s why Lipsitz would like the state to take a role.

--The Buffalo News editorial board wants the state to help with closure of the Huntley power plant.

SHELTER FROM THE STORM—POLITICO New York’s David Giambusso: Mayor Bill de Blasio announced $100 million in capital funding for continued storm protection, or resiliency infrastructure in lower Manhattan, following a "preparedness fair" Thursday at the Alfred E. Smith playground on Manhattan's Lower East Side. On the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the mayor prepared "go-bags" during the fair, putting flashlights, gloves and other emergency supplies into backpacks for residents of the Alfred E. Smith Houses. He then announced the additional resiliency funding at a news conference. "We're investing $100 million to build a system that will protect all of Lower Manhattan from flooding," de Blasio said.

NORTHPORT SUED FOR ‘FISH-KILLING’ — Newsday’s Mark Harrington: “An environmentalist who is suing Northport power plant operator National Grid and a state agency said the plant is a "giant fish-killing machine" and its continued operation with an antiquated cooling system is "an act of theft" on a public resource. Terry Backer, who operates the Connecticut environmental group Soundkeeper, used the 48-year-old plant as a backdrop and took sharp aim at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for a 5-year delay in issuing a new water-pollution discharge permit for the plant.”

**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.**


--Death gets laid off from the Huntley coal plant in this Buffalo News editorial cartoon.

--National Grid helped a salon expand outside of Albany.

--Maloney opposes Iran deal: See POLITICO New York’s Iran-vote tracker here:

--A group of General Electric investors is calling on the company to conduct more dredging in the Hudson River.

--The state Department of Environmental Conservation helped track down a Rochester woman who was dumping televisions in a Syracuse vacant lot.

--Eric Goldstein of the NRDC writes that scores of city businesses are keeping their doors open in the summer, blowing air conditioning onto the sidewalk. This practice comes as utilities spend billions of ratepayer dollars trying to manage and cut peak demand in the summer, fed mostly by air conditioning.

HAPPY FRIDAY: 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:

JUDGE BLOCKS EPA WATER RULES—The Associated Press: “A federal judge in North Dakota on Thursday blocked a new Obama administration rule that would give the federal government jurisdiction over some smaller waterways just hours before it was set to go into effect. U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson in Fargo issued a temporary injunction requested by North Dakota and 12 other states halting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers from regulating some small streams, tributaries and wetlands under the Clean Water Act. The rule, which has prompted fierce criticism from farmers among others, was scheduled to take effect Friday. North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, who filed the injunction request, said his reading of the ruling was that it applied to all 50 states, not just the 13 that sued. But the EPA said in a statement that it applied only to the 13 and it would be enforced beginning Friday in all other states.”

NEW ENGLAND GROUPS CALL FOR MORE PIPELINES—The Boston Globe’s Jack Newsham: “A group of New England labor and business groups has called for the construction of new pipelines, transmissions lines, wind farms, and other energy infrastructure, warning of billions of dollars in lost income and tens of thousands of lost jobs if the region doesn’t commit to doing more to cut energy costs. The newly formed New England Coalition for Affordable Energy said Wednesday that without new investment, the region could face $5.4 billion in higher energy costs between now and 2020, according to a study the group conducted. The private sector would create 52,000 fewer jobs, without new energy infrastructure, according to the study.”

ANALYSTS BAFFLED BY SOLAR FIRM PLUNGE—Bloomberg’s Chris Martin: “SunEdison Inc. sank the most in almost 14 years after the world’s biggest clean-energy developer reported record growth, leaving analysts scratching their heads. ‘We have been receiving a lot of calls on today’s sell-off of SunEdison,’ Mahesh Sanganeria at RBC Capital Markets said in a note to clients Thursday. ‘We expected the stock to react positively.’ Instead, SunEdison plunged 25 percent to $17.08 at the close in New York. That was the biggest decline since September 2001.”

TWEET OF THE DAY: City Councilman Mark Treyger tweets a picture of Coney Island from 1918 when electricity was still something of a novelty and used to great effect.

ALOHA, LOW OIL — Bloomberg: “Hawaii residents are welcoming lower electricity rates after tumbling crude oil prices brought down costs at the state’s oil-fired power plants. The state wants to switch exclusively to renewable fuels and say goodbye to oil forever. Retail power costs in the island state, the highest in the U.S., dropped 23 percent in June from a year earlier because of tumbling crude, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Hawaii relies on oil for more than two thirds of its generation, the most by far of any state, and the drop in crude from $100 a barrel in June 2014 to near $40 now has yielded the biggest savings to consumers.”

ALOHA, WASTEWATER — The Associated Press: “For the second time in a week, a popular Hawaii beach was closed Thursday after sewage from a treatment plant was discharged into the ocean. A million gallons of treated but not yet disinfected wastewater was discharged from the East Honolulu Wastewater Treatment plant, closing Sandy Beach and its surroundings. The closure comes a day after beaches near Waikiki were reopened following a similar issue. Hawaii American Water, the private company that runs the treatment plant, said the incident happened Tuesday after an underground electrical cable that feeds power to their chlorination system shorted out as heavy rains fell in the area.”

NO BANG FOR GASOLINE’S BUCK — The Wall Street Journal’s Spencer Jakab: “Economists are still waiting for the tank to be half full. Although they have been pointing out all year what a big benefit Americans would get as a result of sliding gasoline prices, the predicted boost to consumer spending resulting from this has failed to materialize. Last summer, when oil prices were still near a multiyear high, personal consumption was growing by between 4.4% and 5% versus a year earlier. In June, that pace was just 3.2%; economists polled by The Wall Street Journal expect it to grow to 3.5% when July data are released on Friday.”

--And the poor credit card companies: The good people at Visa and Mastercard were hoping consumers would spend their gas savings on other credit card purchases. We are contracted in one great brow of woe as Bloomberg reports those profits have yet to materialize.

TIME WARNER FOUND AT FAULT IN FATAL MISSOURI BLAST—The Associated Press: “Time Warner Cable must pay nearly $6 million as part of a lawsuit alleging it was largely responsible for a fatal natural gas explosion that leveled an upscale Kansas City restaurant, jurors ruled Thursday. Brothers David and Jimmy Frantze, who operated the popular JJ’s restaurant, were seeking more than $9 million in damages from Time Warner Cable and USIC Locating Services, which contracts with utility companies. Their lawsuit was among several that were filed following the February 2013 explosion, which killed restaurant worker Megan Cramer and injured more than a dozen other people.”

KATRINA’S LEGACY — InsideClimate News’ Katherine Bagley: “Hurricane Katrina is often considered the first modern climate-related disaster in the United States. Warmer ocean temperatures from the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are believed to have fueled the storm's intensity, and rising sea level contributed to its record-breaking storm surge—making the 1,833 people who lost their lives and the 400,000 people who lost their homes true victims of climate change. They are, however, by no means the last. Estimates for the number of people who will be displaced by global warming range from 50 million by 2030 to 1 billion by 2100, said Elizabeth Ferris, director of the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement and an expert on humanitarian crises. As many as 5 million people and 2.6 million properties in the U.S. could be underwater with four feet of sea level rise, a scenario that scientists say is looking more and more likely by 2100.”


--Oil has a great day: Oil saw its biggest one-day gain in almost six years as market news improved, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The benchmark U.S. contract rose $3.96, or 10.3%, to settle at $42.56 a barrel. In percentage terms, it was the largest gain since March 12, 2009, though that has become amplified as prices have fallen. In dollar terms, it was the largest gain in three years. The market rose early after settling near six-year lows the day before, but gained steam throughout the day and added to the surge in the last half-hour of trading. The global Brent contract also jumped, finishing up $4.42, or 10.3%, to $47.56 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange. It was the largest one-day dollar gain in three years and the largest percentage gain since Dec. 31, 2008.”

--Natural Gas settled lower as supplies continued to pile up, the Journal reports.

“Natural gas futures for September delivery, which were already in the red before the data was released, ended 5.5 cents or 2% lower at $2.6380 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange, pulling back from gains Wednesday. Prices are trading near the bottom of the range they have been in for the last two months.”

**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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