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POLITICO New York Energy: Fitzpatrick could close; Brooklyn climate rally

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

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UPSTATE NUCLEAR PLANT COULD CLOSE — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: The operators of a nuclear power plant in Central New York may shut it down by early 2017.

The James A. FitzPatrick nuclear facility in Oswego has been struggling financially and plant operator Entergy will decide its fate by the end of this year, CEO Leo Denault said Thursday. FitzPatrick employs 600 people and contributes about $17 million in annual tax payments to local municipalities, including nearby school districts and towns. “Low commodity prices and continuing challenges with the market structure in New York are a significant business concern and as such, we are evaluating whether to move forward with the next refueling outage at the FitzPatrick nuclear power plant,” Denault said at the Barclays CEO Energy-Power Conference in New York City.

BEFORE PARIS, BROOKLYN: More than 1,000 people filled the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Gilman Opera House Thursday evening for a climate change rally three months before a major United Nations climate conference in Paris. Bill McKibben, co-founder of the global advocacy group, and Naomi Klein, activist author and filmmaker, led the two-hour rally with the Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., president of the Hip Hop Caucus, and Cynthia Ong, a Malaysian activist, casting the fight against the fossil fuel industry as a moral battle. "The only way we are going to win is to build a massive global movement," Klein told the crowd. "The problem is that too many of our politicians are unethical. The problem is too much corporate power."

NATIONAL GRID REVERSES FEE DECISION — POLITICO New York’s David Giambusso: Afteran outcry from residents and elected leaders, National Grid has agreed to continue not charging connection and disconnection fees for property owners affected by Hurricane Sandy. National Grid, a U.K.-based utility that operates throughout New York, has been waiving the fees for Long Islanders who are raising their homes to avoid damage from the type of flooding seen during the 2012 superstorm. Utility spokeswoman Wendy Ladd said in a statement that the company would "continue to temporarily suspend its recovery of costs to disconnect and reconnect natural gas facilities through March 31, 2016 to accommodate the reconstruction activities" of customers affected by the storm. [PRO]


--A microgrid project on Long Island could power the energy grid in East Hampton with 50 percent renewable energy.

--An Albany-area fuel cell maker is expanding to Europe.

--DEP’s Con Ed Contract: POLITICO New York’s Brendan Cheney reports that the New York City Department of Environmental Protection registered five contracts totaling $51.9 million, including a $41.6 million contract for transportation and disposal of services for biosolids and a $6 million contract for North River cogeneration feeder agreement with Con Edison.

--Oyster war: The Star-Ledger’s Brian Donohue writes the tale of a South Jersey oyster farmer and his battle with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

--An oil and gas company offered $100 to the editorial page editor of the Times Union to publish a commentary.

--There is a push to ban microbeads in Tompkins County.

HAPPY FRIDAY: Enjoy the weekend, energy folk. 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:

SENATE BLOCKS IRAN DEAL — The Wall Street Journal’s Kristina son: The Senate on Thursday narrowly blocked a measure aimed at derailing the nuclear accord with Iran, effectively ending a bitter, partisan fight in Congress over the deal. The 58-42 vote clears the way for President Barack Obama to implement an agreement seen as the foreign-policy capstone of his second term without the embarrassing spectacle of a veto war with the Republican-controlled Congress. Sixty votes were needed to advance the disapproval resolution. The procedural motion was opposed by all 42 members of the Democratic caucus who backed the nuclear deal. Every Republican and four Democrats voted to advance the disapproval resolution. The four Democrats who had opposed the nuclear accord were Charles Schumer of New York, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Ben Cardin of Maryland and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

What’s next? Now that Congress’ stance on the deal has become all but irrelevant, the New York Times reports what will happen next.

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA DROPS COAL, TAR SANDS — Reuters: The University of California's chief investment officer said Wednesday that the school has sold off about $200 million of direct holdings in coal and oil sands companies which, he said, were no longer good investments for the university's $98.2 billion fund. Chief investment officer Jagdeep Bachher said slowing global demand and an increasingly unfavorable regulatory environment pose insurmountable challenges for coal mining companies. The profitability of companies focused on developing crude from Canadian oil sands has also fallen amid low global oil prices, Bachher said, making those companies increasingly risky investments.

DROUGHT HARMS CALIFORNIA HOUSING — Bloomberg: “California’s already tight housing market is facing another long-term complication: drought. The state’s dry spell is creating challenges for developers at a time when home prices are soaring because of limited inventory. The metropolitan areas of San Jose, San Francisco and San Diego had the nation’s biggest gap between the number of new jobs and residential building permits from 2012 to 2014, according to a report Wednesday by the National Association of Realtors. Now the drought, into its fourth year, stands to curb affordability further.”

IRAN GETS SHIPPING: Since 2012, Iran has been able to sell only a fraction of the oil it can produce to outside nations. It has been storing millions of gallons of crude since then, awaiting the day when sanctions are lifted. That day fast approaches and Bloomberg reports that tankers are already leaving Iran’s shores. “A small number of Iranian tankers believed to have been storing crude has left the Persian Gulf in the past several weeks, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Three of those ships have since disappeared from detection by failing to report their location.”

OPEC NOW INCLUDES OIL IMPORTER — Christian Science Monitor’s Christina Mazza: “The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said this week it would readmit a member whose energy balance doesn’t exactly live up to the storied cartel’s name. In December, Indonesia will rejoin OPEC, the group of 12 of the world’s top oil exporters, despite the fact that the Southeast Asian nation became a net importer of oil over a decade ago, and continues to consume more oil than it produces. The apparent contradiction reflects a global oil industry scrambling to adapt to rapidly shifting energy supply and demand. Readmission to OPEC should create valuable ties for Jakarta as it works to sustain a booming population. For OPEC, it’s a concession that the era of centralized, top-down markets may be coming to a close. New supply continues to boom in the West, and demand centers shift to the East as efficient, renewable technologies curb consumption in Europe and the US. It’s why OPEC’s longstanding grip on global oil markets is slowly yielding to US shale producers and emerging energy alternatives.”

OPEC SEES WEAK OIL FOR REST OF 2015 — The Wall Street Journal: “The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has become more pessimistic about the future of oil prices this year amid plentiful supplies and softening demand from China, the group’s members said this week. Persian Gulf OPEC members, the leaders behind group’s new strategy of letting market forces determine prices while pumping more to maintain customers, now believe prices won’t go much higher than they are now, if at all this year. Brent crude, the international benchmark, was trading between $47 and $48 a barrel in London on Thursday afternoon. One Persian Gulf country official told The Wall Street Journal that members see Brent trading between $40 and $50 a barrel through the end of 2015. Gulf OPEC members had expected prices to bounce back firmly to the $70 to $80 range at the end this year. Brent oil prices crashed to $42 a barrel in August, the lowest since the financial crisis and a new trough for a market that had become accustomed to prices of $100 a barrel or more from 2011 to 2014.”

NEW PIPELINES AS DANGEROUS AS THE VERY OLD — EnergyWire’s Sarah Smith: “The push to build new pipelines to transport abundant shale supplies appears to be having a materially adverse impact on pipeline safety. According to a Pipeline Safety Trust analysis of federal data, new pipelines are failing at a rate on par with gas transmission lines installed before the 1940s. ‘I think new models of anything — a new model of a car, a new computer, whatever — have problems when they're first put in. You have to get the kinks out. That's probably part of the explanation, but there's also some suggestions that we're trying to put so many new miles of pipeline in the ground so fast that people aren't doing construction … the way they ought to,’ Carl Weimer, director of the Pipeline Safety Trust, told attendees at a National Association of Pipeline Safety Representatives annual meeting in Tempe, Ariz. ‘The new pipelines are failing even worse than the oldest pipelines,’ he said.”


--Oil lifts on supply data: The Wall Street Journal reports that oil futures were boosted on news that production was down.

“Light, sweet crude for October delivery settled up $1.77, or 4%, at $45.92 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, rose $1.31, or 2.8%, to $48.89 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.”

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