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POLITICO New York Energy: Solar company opportunity and challenge; Cuomo with Gore on climate

By David Giambusso and Scott Waldman

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SOLAR COMPANY NEEDS TO RAISE MILLIONS — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: A solar company building a new manufacturing facility on former farmland between Rochester and Buffalo must still raise hundreds of millions of dollars to reach its full capacity within the next few years. On Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo traveled to Genesee County to announce that Massachusetts-based 1366 Technologies would operate the planned $700 million facility, which will help meet the growing demand of the solar market. The facility will use technological innovations to more efficiently produce renewable energy. Since its founding in 2008 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1366 has been steadily raising money. In 2011, the company secured a $150 million loan from the U.S. Department of Energy, which it has not yet capitalized upon, said the company's chief operating officer Brian Eller. General Electric is also a primary investor in 1366, which is also partnering with solar manufacturing in other countries, including China and Japan.

CUOMO AND GORE SING CLIMATE PRAISES — POLITICO New York’s David Giambusso: In his second climate speech in a week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo stood with former Vice President Al Gore on Thursday to announce that New York will participate in a global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius. "We know what needs to be done, we just need the political will to do it," Cuomo told a standing-room only crowd at Columbia's Lerner Auditorium. "We are well underway." Cuomo signed the "Under 2 MOU" — a pact of states, cities and provinces throughout the world that have committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050. The agreement is largely symbolic, as New York has already committed to the 80-by-50 goal as part of its state energy plan and the Cuomo administration has executed an aggressive regulatory upheaval to boost market demand for renewable energy.

WHAT ABOUT CHRISTIE? Part of Cuomo’s announcement includes a push to get other states to join a cap and trade program similar to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. But asked if he would convince New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to come back into the RGGI fold, Cuomo said "You'd have to talk to Governor Christie about that.”


--The chief legal officer at the state Department of Environmental Conservation is departing just weeks before a new commissioner takes over.

--The state’s Reforming Energy Vision plan is already producing tangible results, according to Cuomo’s energy czar.

--The Times Union editorial board wants the state, the federal government and General Electric to answer honestly as to when the upper Hudson River will be safe again now that dredging is completed.

--Con ed teams up with the Justice League: Mild-mannered reporter by day, Bill Sanderson writes of Con Edison’s new app that features utility employees teaming up with DC Comics heroes to promote gas safety.

--The waste from a yogurt plant in Johnstownis now being converted into energy.

--Investigative Post’s Jim Heaney breaks down why the state is playing coy with minority hiring numbers at the SolarCity facility.

--U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko marked national hydrogen and fuel cell day on the house floor.

YEAH FRIDAY: We hope you are enjoying this season of turning leaves, pumpkin everything and low natural gas prices. 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:

FERC COMMISSIONER CALLS FOR NATURAL GAS INFRASTRUCTURE — SNL Energy’s Ximena Mosqueda-Fernandez: “FERC Commissioner Tony Clark on Oct. 6 called for more natural gas pipeline infrastructure, citing the shale boom's transformative effect on the U.S., but he also welcomed as ‘helpful’ the views of local landowners who oppose development projects. In his keynote speech at the North American Gas Forum, Clark stressed that shale gas and the midstream sector have significantly contributed to lower gas prices and will play a major role in supporting the future of renewable energy. ‘If we didn't have the shale gas that we have and if we didn't have adequate infrastructure, as they've seen in New England, gas prices would skyrocket,’ Clark said at the Washington, D.C., event. He added that natural gas has had a massive impact on costs in the U.S. industrial sector and in areas such as North Dakota, Clark's home state, where it is the primary heating fuel for residential and commercial customers.”

BP SETTLEMENT REALLY A TAX BREAK —’s Charles Kennedy: “The U.S. Justice Department touted its historic settlement with BP over charges related to the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010. BP will be forced to pay $20.8 billion, the largest settlement ever reached with a single entity. ‘BP is receiving the punishment it deserves,’ U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement. But is it really? BP will be able to write-off three-quarters of the total, taking a tax deduction on $15.3 billion of the total, as Robert W. Wood points out in Forbes. Only $5.5 billion out of the $20.8 billion total is not eligible for a tax deduction, as those charges stem from a Clean Water Act violation.”

GOVERNORS, ATTORNEYS GENERAL AT ODDS ON CLIMATE POLICY — The Wall Street Journal’s Brent Kendall and Amy Harder: ”Colorado’s Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper wants to help implement the Obama administration’s new environmental rules, but he has been relegated to a spectator role as his state’s attorney general joins three lawsuits to invalidate them. In North Carolina, Republican Gov. Pat McCrory wants his state in court fighting White House environmental and immigration initiatives he views as federal overreach, but is working around the state’s top lawyer — a likely candidate for governor himself — who has criticized that approach. Such disagreements highlight a different kind of divided government in about a dozen states where governors and attorneys general come from opposing parties. That can leave these states speaking with conflicting voices on crucial cases that are testing President Barack Obama’s top policy priorities.”

VW CHIEF CLAIMS ‘INDIVIDUALS’ GUILTY OF DECEPTION — The Wall Street Journal’s Mike Spector and Amy Harder: “Volkswagen AG’s top U.S. executive apologized for a yearslong deception but rejected suggestions there was a broad conspiracy at the German auto maker to cheat on diesel-emissions tests, instead pointing to rogue engineers as likely culprits in the scandal. Michael Horn, head of Volkswagen Group of America, said during a congressional hearing on Thursday that he believed ‘a couple of software engineers’ were responsible for software that allowed nearly a half million diesel-powered cars sold in the U.S. since 2008 to dupe emissions tests. ‘To my understanding this was not a corporate decision,’ Mr. Horn said during a contentious U.S. House subcommittee hearing. ‘This was something individuals did.’”

SOLAR AND WIND PASS TURNING POINT — Bloomberg’s Tom Randall: “Wind power is now the cheapest electricity to produce in both Germany and the U.K., even without government subsidies, according to a new analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). It's the first time that threshold has been crossed by a G7 economy. But that's less interesting than what just happened in the U.S. To appreciate what's going on there, you need to understand the capacity factor. That's the percentage of a power plant's maximum potential that's actually achieved over time. Consider a solar project. The sun doesn't shine at night and, even during the day, varies in brightness with the weather and the seasons. So a project that can crank out 100 megawatt hours of electricity during the sunniest part of the day might produce just 20 percent of that when averaged out over a year. That gives it a 20 percent capacity factor.”

AMERICANS SPENDING MONEY SAVED ON GAS — The Wall Street Journal’s Jeffrey Sparshott: “Americans have saved a bundle at the pump since gas prices began to plunge in the middle of last year. So did households tuck the money away, pay down debt or splurge? New research, based on examining the spending patterns of millions of consumers, found that households were quick to spend most of the benefits from cheaper gasoline. The study finds Americans were far less cautious than previously thought in spending their extra cash. ‘Consumers report that they are using their gains at the pump to pay down debts and save. Our data show they are spending most of them,’ the J.P. Morgan Chase Institute study said. Individuals spent 78 cents of every dollar saved on gasoline, with about 18% of that going to eating out and 10% to groceries, according to the study. Other big categories included entertainment, electronics and appliances, and charitable donations.”

FEDERAL SOLAR FUNDING DWINDLING — The Washington Post’s Chelsea Harvey: “Federal funding for solar energy research has declined steadily over the past several years, despite emphasis from the Obama administration on continued investment in research and development of clean energy technologies. These cuts have affected the federal solar program at large, not just solar research at NREL … Yet federal appropriations for solar energy research, which are negotiated and approved by Congress along with funding for all other federal activities, seem to decline a little more every year. These reductions have manifested themselves in the form of steady cuts to the Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO), which is the lead U.S. agency funding solar research, including solar research at NREL, and runs the SunShot Initiative, a set of goals seeking to make solar energy competitive with other forms of electricity by the year 2020.”

SMOG DECLINING — Opinion for the New York Times by Gregg Easterbrook: “Last week the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled stringent new regulations on smog, and it’s crystal clear the agency has legal authority to impose these rules. The E.P.A. also recently announced an initiative to reduce greenhouse gases from power plants, though its legal authority to regulate emissions that cause global warming is murky. Some states will sue to block the plan; years of litigation may be in the offing. Here’s the rub. Smog has been decreasing steadily, down 18 percent since 2000 and 33 percent since 1980. Greenhouse-gas accumulation in the atmosphere is increasing steadily. Yet perversely, the federal government has a well-defined authority to act on the environmental issue that’s getting better, but not on the one that’s getting worse.”


--Oil on the rise: A weak dollar, Syria and cuts in production sent oil prices up.

“Light, sweet crude for November delivery settled up $1.62, or 3.4%, at $49.43 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest settlement since July 21. The contract traded as high as $50.07 a barrel in intraday trading. Brent, the global benchmark, rose $1.72, or 3.4%, to $53.05 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.”

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