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POLITICO New York Energy: Second lives of power plants; PSC disclosures

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

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SECOND ACTS IN LIVES OF POWER PLANTS—POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: There could be a second act for struggling power plants — if they're deemed necessary to keep the electrical grid reliable. Environmental and community groups cheered the news last week that NRG Energy would shutter two coal-burning power plants, Huntley and Dunkirk, which are both in the Buffalo area. Huntley is being retired, while Dunkirk is being mothballed in the wake of a lawsuit over a plan to repower the plant with natural gas. Combined, the plants could produce about 900 megawatts of power, though they have been operating at reduced capacity for years. But the plants could also qualify for a last-ditch economic lifeline, called a reliability support service agreement. Under an RSSA, ratepayers subsidize a struggling power plant if it is determined that it is needed to maintain reliability on the electrical grid until replacement power sources can be put in place. Typically, such agreements last years.

BRENNAN STILL DEMANDING DISCLOSURES — POLITICO New York’s David Giambusso: Assemblyman Jim Brennan is appealing the Public Service Commission's decision to keep the financial information of state energy companies under wraps. Last year Brennan, a Democrat who represents parts of Brooklyn, filed a Freedom of Information request to get unredacted financial information from the state's private generators, alleging that the companies are overcharging for power on the wholesale market and helping drive up New York's electricity bills.The PSC, siding with private generators, denied the request, saying that release of the information could lead to "predatory pricing" and harm competition. The state regulatory body sees the data in order to assess the overall health of the market, but the specifics are not released to the public.Brennan filed an appeal of the PSC's decision last week, maintaining that the public has a right to know the full details of information from companies like Entergy, NRG and others.


--Where they stand on Iran--Jersey edition: POLITICO New York’s Brendan Cheney tracks where Jersey legislators stand on the Iran nuclear deal.

--Gil Quiniones, the head of NYPA appeared on NPR’s Science Friday last week to discuss whether rooftop solar and utilities can get along. Quiniones urged utilities to find ways to adapt.

--The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is extending the public comment period for a natural gas pipeline that will bring natural gas fracked in Pennsylvania across New York and into New England.

--Wind farm failures in NJ: The Record’s James O’Neill reports that the Christie administration is nowhere on offshore wind.

--Western New York is getting two compressed natural gas fueling stations.

--An energy lawyer looks at a recent fracking court case in New York.

--New York AREA looks at Reforming Energy Vision.

--Whoever smelted it: Staten Island claims the foul odor that permeated Staten Island Friday morning wafted over from a petrochemical plant in New Jersey.

TOP OF THE TUESDAY MORNING: 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:

ALARM BELLS IN ANCHORAGE — The New York Times: “The Obama administration made an urgent appeal on Monday for global commitments to address climate change, cautioning at an international conference here that the consequences that have hit the Arctic the hardest would soon engulf the world unless more was done to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. In a particularly striking warning, Secretary of State John Kerry said climate change — reflected by what he called “seismic changes” in temperatures and sea levels — could soon create waves of new refugees forced to abandon traditional homes or to fight for food and water. “You think migration is a challenge to Europe today because of extremism, wait until you see what happens when there’s an absence of water, an absence of food or one tribe fighting against another for mere survival,” Mr. Kerry told more than 450 delegates at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center in downtown Anchorage.”

VIDEO OF THE DAY: The weird fishes of the Cambrian explosion. The Economist looks at one of the most important developments in the evolution of Earth life.

HOMEOWNERS COULD SAVE BY CONTROLLING ENERGY DEMAND—The Scientific American’s Melissa Lott: “Buy, make, or eliminate – these are the three main ways that we have gone about meeting our electricity needs for the past century. But, according to a new report by the Rocky Mountain Institute, a rapidly growing fourth option is appearing across the country and offering a way for homeowners to decrease their monthly bills. This fourth possibility centres on “demand flexibility” – which refers to the increasing ability for homeowners to choose when they use electricity throughout the day. Examples include delaying when water is heated after our shower in the morning to shifting when an electric car parked in the garage is charged at night.”

REDUCING WIND TURBINE MORTALITY RATES—The Washington Post’s Joby Warrick: “It has long been the tarnish on one of the cleanest forms of energy: Wind turbines, a rapidly growing source of electricity around the world, can be deadly to birds, including rare and threatened species. At a single wind farm near Altamont, Calif., more than 75 golden eagles die each year from collisions with the farm’s thousands of spinning blades. Now, a study offers new hope for reducing the number of bird deaths. A paper by researchers from Colorado and Ontario says avian mortality can be sharply reduced through better decisions about where future wind farms are built.”

CANADIAN REGULATOR SHUTS DOWN 95 PIPELINES—The Edmonton Journal: Alberta's energy regulator has ordered Nexen Energy to immediately cease operations of 95 pipelines in northeastern Alberta. It issued the order late Friday due to what it calls non-compliance surrounding pipeline maintenance and monitoring in its Long Lake oilsands project.

Alberta Energy Regulator spokesman Bob Curran said every oil and gas company is required to monitor, inspect and maintain records for all of their pipelines. Nexen couldn't demonstrate that those activities have occurred on those lines, which carry several products including crude oil, natural gas, salt water, fresh water and emulsion, Curran said.

COLORADO AND WYOMING SEE JOB GAINS UNDER EPA RULE—EnergyWire’s Mike Soraghan: “Colorado didn't see oil and gas employment fall last year after adopting the air pollution rules serving as a template for new rules proposed by U.S. EPA. In fact, Weld County, the heart of Colorado's oil drilling boom, had the country's highest rate of job growth last year, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. Statewide, Colorado oil field employment grew by nearly 4,000 people from 2013 to 2014, according to BLS's Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. That's a gain of about 16 percent. In Wyoming, which enacted similar rules around the same time, employment grew by 745 people, or 5 percent. "It's not the job killer that everybody is saying it is," said Eva Henry, one of three county commissioners in Adams County, just south of Weld County. Adams County ranked third in percentage employment gains last year.”

HALLE AND THE CATHOLICS — The Los Angeles Times’ Chris Megerian: “California Democrats are calling on supporters in Hollywood and the Catholic Church as they push for climate change bills in the final two weeks of the legislative session. Actress Halle Berry visited the Capitol on Monday and met with some lawmakers, such as Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove), who have been on the fence about the legislation.”

MELTING ARCTIC MEANS COLD WINTERS ELSEWHERE — InsideClimate News: “Melting sea ice and warmer temperatures in the Arctic are to blame for the brutal cold snaps that have plagued parts of Asia and North America in recent years, according to new research by Korean and European scientists released Monday. The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Geoscience, adds to the growing evidence linking rising Arctic temperatures to changing weather patterns across the globe. It also helps further debunk one of climate deniers' favorite arguments: cold weather proves the world isn't warming from the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”

BIRDS AND TURBINES: The Washington Post reports on new research suggesting birds no longer have to die in the march toward wind generation. A new study says it’s all about location.

“The study examines the potential for peaceful co-existence between large raptors and rotors across Wyoming, a state with large numbers of eagles and a vast potential for wind-generated electricity. In the article, researchers Brad Fedy and Jason Tack compile data for hundreds of known eagle nesting sites and plots it against some of Wyoming’s most promising regions for wind farms. The exercise successfully identified ‘sweet spots,’ places far removed from nesting grounds but directly in the path of prevailing winds that can keep turbines turning.”

FUEL RELIEF FOR EGYPT — The New York Times: “The discovery of a huge gas field off Egypt's coast promises to ease a long-running fuel crisis and boost the economy after years of unrest, but it will take years to develop and won't bring Gulf-style riches to the Arab world's most populous country, experts said Monday. The new "supergiant" offshore Zohr field, revealed a day earlier by Italy's Eni SpA and billed as the "largest-ever" found in the Mediterranean Sea, could alleviate Egypt's need for gas imports in the coming years, when a booming population will lead to a spike in domestic demand.”

OPEC ANTES— Bloomberg: “OPEC, the producer of 40 percent of the world’s oil, renewed its readiness to talk to other crude exporters to achieve ‘fair and reasonable prices,’ according to the group’s monthly magazine. Oil jumped to the highest in a month on the report.”


--Oil racing back: Nicole Friedman of the Wall Street Journal reports oil futures are charging back.

“On Friday, light, sweet crude for October delivery settled up $2.66, or 6.2%, to $45.22 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest settlement since Aug. 4. Prices climbed 12% on the week, the biggest one-week percentage gain since February 2009. Brent, the global benchmark, rose $2.49, or 5.2%, to $50.05 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe. The contract rose 10% this week.”

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