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POLITICO New York Energy: Low-income program panned; DiNapoli faults crude facilities

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

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PSC LOW-INCOME PROGRAM BROADLY CRITICIZED — POLITICO New York’s David Giambusso: The most recent round of comments has been submitted on the Public Service Commission's plan to streamline electricity benefits for low-income residents, and the message from stakeholders, utilities and government leaders is almost unanimous: Go back to the drawing board. In June, PSC staff put forth a policy recommendation to address the increasing burden of power bills for low-income residents. The goal — to streamline a system that operates piecemeal throughout New York — is laudable, stakeholders said. But attempting to create a unified system that is equitable for everyone in a state as diverse as New York is proving difficult if not impossible. "Staff put a tremendous amount of work into doing this report," said Richard Berkley, executive director of the Public Utility Law Project, a consumer advocacy group. "They had to know that folks were going to beat them up for it."

DINAPOLI: STORAGE FACILITIES AREN’T PROPERLY RECORDING CRUDE — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: The state’s oil storage facilities aren't properly reporting how much crude oil they receive, a state audit released Friday found. The state Department of Environmental Conservation is largely reliant on oil-handling facilities to self-report the amount of oil they are moving, auditors for Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli found. The audit found that a majority of the facilities sampled were not properly classifying and reporting the products they were receiving and that some facilities were paying a far lower rate into the state Oil Spill Fund than they should for their size.

AVELLA: GE NEEDS TO DO MORE — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: State Sen. Tony Avella of Queens wants the state to push General Electric to do more cleanup in the Hudson River as the company winds down its multi-year dredging effort. Avella, a member of the Independent Democratic Conference and vice chairman of the Senate Environmental Conservation committee, sent a letter last week to acting Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner Marc Gerstman asking the state to pressure GE to do more. Some sections of the river as well as the Champlain Canal still contain PCBs dumped by GE from the 1940s through the 1970s.

CONNECTICUT PREPARES TO LOSE GE (TO NEW YORK?) — Neil Vigdor in the Connecticut Post: “The filament in General Electric’s lightbulb in Connecticut is flickering, with a sense of resignation setting in among lawmakers that it’s no longer a matter of if the blue-chip company flees the state, but when. ... ‘I think it’s a lost cause,’ said state Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven. ‘There’s not a doubt in my mind that he plans on leaving the state of Connecticut.’ … ‘You fed up with Connecticut?’ Kelly Evans, of CNBC’s ‘Squawk on the Street,’ asked Immelt Thursday. ‘We want to be looking forward in a place that’s going to be supportive of where the company’s going,’ Immelt said. ‘We have been there for 40 years. So we would never do anything like this carelessly or casually. But we are also quite intent on being aligned with where we go. It is the only way today.’ Immelt set a timetable of the fourth quarter of this year for making a decision on the company’s headquarters.”


--Smiles and ill feeling accompanied the opening of the new 7 train station on Manhattan’s West Side on Sunday. POLITICO New York’s Dana Rubinstein reports how politics and an argument over money colored the otherwise happy occasion.

--Two million bulbs on Long Island: Newsday’s Mark Harrington reports, “the shift to energy-efficient lighting hit a milestone on Long Island this month, as PSEG-rebated bulbs and fixtures reached a record 2 million for 2015 and LEDs overtook sales of compact fluorescents for the first time.”

--Conflagration at Bergen County substation: News 12 reports that roughly 2,000 PSE&G customers lost power Sunday because of a blaze at a substation in Waldwick, New Jersey.

--Potsdam microgrid could be a first: North Country Now is touting a planned microgrid in Potsdam as the first of its kind in the nation.

--New York City’s first net-zero energy efficient school is opening on Staten Island.

--An Entergy executive defended the company’s safety record to Orange County business officials.

--RGGI prices set another record.

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CALIFORNIA ON FIRE: A fire of unprecedented strength and speed scorched more than 100,000 acres of land in California’s Napa and Lake Counties. A prolonged drought and record temperatures are forcing thousands of people to evacuate. Firefighters are unable to keep up with the flames. Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency.

OBAMA STRUGGLES TO WIN ISRAEL — The New York Times: “Seeking to sell his nuclear deal with Iran to a skeptical Israeli public, President Barack Obama has repeatedly declared his deep affection for the Jewish state. But the feelings do not appear to be mutual. Wide swaths of the Israeli public, particularly supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have little trust in the American leader, considering him naive and even hostile. One recent poll showed less than a tenth considered him ‘pro-Israel.’ Such misgivings bode poorly for Obama as he tries to repair ties with Israel in the final year of his presidency, and they would certainly complicate any renewed effort at brokering peace between Israel and its neighbors — once a major Obama ambition.”

--Sullivan says Times’ Iran deal graphic was inappropriate: The New York Times published a graphic tracking American legislators, their stances on the Iran deal, whether they are Jewish and how many Jews are in their districts. Public editor Margaret Sullivan thought the graphic and its presentation was inappropriate and creepy.


FIVE OIL GUYS ON THE PRICE OF GAS—Marketplace: Smack in the middle of an oil price plunge last year, a group of energy watchers figured it was a good time for a wager. The simple question: What will the price of oil be at the end of 2015?

UTILITIES FOR THE 21ST CENTURY—Vox’s David Roberts: “Utilities are fighting rooftop solar, hostile to energy efficiency, and/or working to secure bailouts for big old coal and nuclear plants. In all cases, their financial returns depend on excluding emerging competitors from electricity markets, maintaining monopoly access to customers. It's an unsustainable situation. Utilities are overdue for some deep restructuring, to open up competitive markets for electricity services and spur innovation. That is, to understate the matter considerably, easier said than done. What might these new utilities look like? And how can they be brought to life?”

OIL, GAS PRODUCERS DOWNGRADED — The Wall Street Journal: “U.S. oil-and-gas producers have written down the value of their drilling fields by more in 2015 than any full year in history, as the rout in commodity prices makes properties across the country not worth drilling. A group of 66 oil and gas producers have taken impairment charges totaling $59.8 billion through June, according to a tally by energy consultancy IHS Herold Inc. That tops the previous full-year record of $48.5 billion set in 2008, IHS says.”

DUBAI AWARDS FIRST ROUND OF MAJOR SOLAR CONTRACT — Bloomberg: “Dubai’s government-owned utility will probably announce in the first quarter the winners in the first quarter to build the third phase of a $3.3 billion solar energy park. The project to produce 800 megawatts of electricity from the sun will probably be awarded to more than one company, Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, chief executive officer of Dubai Electricity & Water Authority, said in Dubai on Sunday. DEWA is still deciding whether to build the plant all at once or at different times to take advantage of lower costs, he said. In January, DEWA tripled its target for solar energy production to take advantage of lower building costs.”

TOKYO PLANS HYDROGEN SHOWCASE FOR 2020 — The Wall Street Journal: “Like Olympic villages of past years, Tokyo’s version in 2020 will feature new buildings to house athletes and buses to ferry people to competition venues. But if Tokyo’s governor has his way, it will all be powered by a new energy source: hydrogen ... Tokyo has said it plans to spend 40 billion yen ($330 million) through 2020 to encourage the development of technologies based on hydrogen, a gas capable of producing energy without exhaust other than water when mixed with oxygen in a fuel cell.”

MASSIVE BINARY STAR DISCOVERED: Matt Shultz, a PhD candidate at Queen’s University in Canada, believes he and a team of researchers have discovered the first massive binary star, epsilon Lupi. A binary star is a system in which two or more stars orbit around a shared centre of mass.


--Oil falls amid oversupply: Same supply concerns, different day, reports the Wall Street Journal.

“Light, sweet crude for October delivery settled down $1.29, or 2.8%, to $44.63 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 3.1% in the week. Brent, the global benchmark, fell 75 cents, or 1.5%, to $48.14 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe, notching a 3% weekly decline.”

--Natural gas inched up Friday on reports of less supply than we thought, the Journal reports.

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