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POLITICO New York Energy: FitzPatrick looks to Cuomo; Cuomo has 'serious questions' about Port Ambrose

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.

LITTLE HOPE FOR NUCLEAR PLANT WITHOUT CUOMO INTERVENTION—POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: The fate of a struggling Oswego County nuclear plant that employs hundreds and generates hundreds of millions of dollars in annual economic activity is now in the hands of the Cuomo administration. State officials are speaking with Entergy, which operates the James A. FitzPatrick nuclear plant, about keeping the plant alive, company officials said Wednesday. And while the officials wouldn’t reveal details of the closed-door discussions, there are essentially no options short of the Cuomo administration taking unusual steps to keep it open. The clock is ticking, as Entergy officials expect to make a decision by the end of month. “We don’t have a lot of time left to reach a conclusion around these conversations,” Entergy vice president Michael Twomey said Wednesday.

CUOMO CITES ‘SERIOUS QUESTIONS’ OVER PORT AMBROSE — POLITICO New York’s David Giambusso: On the same day the federal government released an environmental impact statement on the Port Ambrose liquefied natural gas facility, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday evening that "serious questions" about the project remain. "The question now goes to the states, New Jersey and New York," Cuomo told reporters as he headed into the Broadway musical, "Hamilton." "There are a lot of serious questions that would have to be answered before approval certainly, because it does bring up a number of obvious security and safety issues." The off-shore facility, a series of pipelines and large buoys, would sit roughly 18.5 miles south of Long Island and 28.7 miles east of New Jersey, according to project renderings. Barges of gas, cooled, condensed and liquefied for shipping, would dock at the station, which would regasify the product and ship it, via pipeline, to the mainland.

DOES SOLARCITY REALLY HAVE WORLD’S MOST EFFICIENT SOLAR PANEL?—GTM Research’s Eric Wesoff: “World-record claims of this nature, absent actual distribution, yield and volume data, are mostly bluster and stunt specmanship. Earlier this month, SolarCity made the claim that solar panels coming off of its 100-megawatt Silevo pilot production line were setting world records for solar module efficiency as "the world’s most efficient rooftop solar panel, with a module efficiency exceeding 22 percent." A week later, Panasonic claimed the crown at 22.5 percent module efficiency.”

PSC CHAIR REJECTS LAWMAKERS CALL FOR HALT TO RATE HIKE—Newsday’s Mark Harrington: “The chairwoman of the state Public Service Commission has rejected a call by 17 Long Island lawmakers and public officials to halt PSEG and LIPA's three-year rate-hike proceeding, saying they made their request too late. Noting a final recommendation from the state Department of Public Service on Sept. 28, two days before the lawmakers' request, PSC chairwoman Audrey Zibelman called the request "moot as the process in this matter before the Department has been concluded." She also defended the process against lawmaker charges that was being approved despite a lack of scrutiny.”


--Today in NYC: The New York Society for Ethical Culture will hold a discussion on “When Nuclear Plants Close.” The event runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at NYSEC's building at 2 West 64th Street New York, NY.

--Today in Albany: The Public Service Commission holds its regular session meeting at SC session beginning at 10:30 a.m. on the 19th floor board room of its offices at Three Empire State Plaza, Albany, New York. The webcast link and agenda can be viewed here:

--The Institute for Policy Integrity at NYU is hosting an energy panel discussion October 27, 2015, from 10:00am-4:30pm

--The Physicians for Social Responsibility and Concerned Health Professionals of New York sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday, requesting that he put on hold the expansion of natural gas infrastructure.

--State workers were paid to attend Cuomo’s climate change event last week.

--The New York Times editorial board says Cuomo is “selling out” the Hudson River by his unwillingness to pressure GE to do more dredging.

SWEET THURSDAY: 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:

TOUGH RECEPTION FOR FERC AT SUPREME COURT—The Wall Street Journal’s Brent Kendall: “A federal energy regulator faced a tough reception at the Supreme Court Wednesday in defending a high-stakes rule that provides incentives for large energy consumers to reduce their power use at peak times. Conservative justices repeatedly voiced skepticism of a 2011 order issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that set higher rates of compensation for energy users such as industrial businesses, schools and hospitals that agree to cut their electricity use. FERC said the move was needed to adjust demand and provide balance to wholesale electricity markets, which can become strained during periods of high demand for electricity.”

VW REPORTS ADDITIONAL SUSPECT SOFTWARE—The Associated Press’ Michael Biesecker and Tom Krishner: Volkswagen has disclosed to U.S. regulators that there is additional suspect software in its 2016 diesel models that would potentially help their exhaust systems run cleaner during government tests. Volkswagen confirmed to The Associated Press that the "auxiliary emissions control device" at issue operates differently from the "defeat" device software included in the company's 2009 to 2015 models disclosed last month. That disclosure triggered the worldwide cheating scandal engulfing the world's largest automaker. The newly revealed software makes a pollution control catalyst heat up faster, improving performance of the device that separates smog-causing nitrogen oxide into harmless nitrogen and oxygen gases.

CNN SHIES AWAY FROM CLIMATE CHANGE SUBSTANCE—Vox’s David Roberts: “There are piles of things you could ask the candidates about climate change, energy, environmental policy. But one highly relevant question that moderators should consider asking is how these would-be executives plan to wield the vast executive authority over carbon dioxide emissions that has been built up under the Obama administration. This goes for both Democrats and Republicans. Whoever becomes president next will have huge influence over climate policy via the Environmental Protection Agency. Unlike many areas of policy, they won't need Congress's approval to act here. Yet none of the candidates have really elaborated on how they'd use this authority.”

TOYOTA TO SLASH CARBON—Automotive News: “Toyota Motor Corp. aims to sell 30,000 fuel cell vehicles and 7 million additional hybrids by 2020 as part of a sweeping new environmental plan to slash carbon dioxide emissions. The carmaker’s top brass outlined the objectives today as the Toyota Environmental Challenge 2050, aiming to all but eliminate the carbon footprint of its fleet and factories. Among the goals, Toyota targets a 90 percent cut in average carbon dioxide emissions from new vehicles by 2050, compared with 2010 levels. And more ambitiously, it aims to achieve zero carbon dioxide emissions at factories in that timeframe.”

SOLAR TO QUADRUPLE—Bloomberg’s Alex Nussbaum: “Solar-power capacity in China, already the world’s largest market, will jump more than fourfold by 2020, according to a senior official cited Tuesday by the government’s official news agency. Solar capacity in China will reach 150 gigawatts in five years, up from 35.8 gigawatts at the end of June, Dong Xiufen, director of new energy for the National Energy Administration, told the Xinhua news agency. The government’s goal is to boost photovoltaic-power capacity by 20 gigawatts annually from 2016 to 2020, according to Xinhua’s report.”

EVERYONE WANTS A CARBON TAX, EXCEPT THOSE WHO VOTE ON IT: Hamilton Nolan of Gawker provides a colorful description of the carbon tax debate and how the lacking political will behind passing one is like the fable the Ant and the Grasshopper.

“Our political system—and the political systems of most countries around the world—rewards short term thinking, not long term thinking. Voters tend to vote for the candidate who has most recently pleased them. Our economic system—and the economic systems of most countries around the world, in this globalized economic environment—rewards short term thinking. Shareholders are in search of constant growth in stock price and profits, and the fortunes of corporate executives who make the decisions are tied to how successfully they satisfy that demand. The typical life of the typical human being on earth rewards short term thinking. Most people are not wealthy. Demands are constant. Resources are limited. People tend to put their immediate needs first.”

NATURAL GAS SUPRASSES COAL ON ELECTRIC AGAIN—Washington Post’s Chris Mooney: “It’s a key expected transition in how we get our electricity — and it may be happening even faster than expected. For the second time this year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, natural gas has temporarily surpassed coal as the number one source of U.S. electricity. This happened in the month of April for the first time ever, and then also happened for July, when natural gas provided 35 percent of U.S. electricity generation and coal provided 34.9 percent, says EIA. This certainly doesn’t mean gas will now be ahead every month going forward — natural gas prices have been quite low lately and may not stay that way — but it nevertheless does appear to be a milestone and a sign of the times.”

MARKEY BACKS CLINTON ON CLIMATE CHANGE — POLITICO’s Darren Goode: Sen. Ed Markey endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, saying she was the best to "lead the effort" to address climate change. The endorsement from the Massachusetts Democrat, who co-sponsored House-passed cap-and-trade legislation in 2009, comes a day after four of five Democratic presidential candidates stressed the need to address climate change during their first primary debate Tuesday night. And Markey's support gives Clinton another liberal green ally in a primary where she has been challenged on the left by Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley.

"Although every Democratic candidate should be commended for focusing on the substantive issues that matter most to Americans, I am proud to support Hillary Clinton for President," Markey said in a statement. "And I believe there is no one better to lead the effort to combat climate change here at home against the climate deniers and around the world as we partner with other nations to implement clean energy solutions." [PRO]

ENERGY, MINING CO’s DRAWN INTO CLIMATE TALKS — The Wall Street Journal: “A major international agreement to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions is starting to draw in major energy and mining companies. Some global companies, especially those that face heavy environmental regulation, say they are supportive of nearly 200 countries’ efforts to reach an accord in Paris in December at negotiations sponsored by the United Nations. On Wednesday, a dozen companies, including oil giant BP PLC and global mining giant BHP Billiton Ltd. released a statement touting the Paris climate talks as a 'critical opportunity to strengthen efforts globally addressing the causes and consequences of climate change.'”

PEOPLE WILL TRAVEL IN TUBES: Elon Musk who is busy developing electric cars and solar panels, has had another idea: transporting people and goods in pneumatic tubes. The Seattle Times reports.

“They are transportation tubes, in which people and goods would travel hundreds of miles in train-car-sized capsules, propelled by electricity, magnetism and air pressure. The tubes would suck the capsules, suspended in air, almost like a vacuum cleaner. Travel time from Los Angeles to San Francisco? Half an hour, according to Musk.”


--Gasoline futures were down on weakening demand, reports the Wall Street Journal.

“Gasoline futures settled down 0.57 cent, or 0.4%, at $1.3083 a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The national average retail gasoline price fell 0.6 cent to $2.303 a gallon, the lowest price for this date since 2006, according to AAA. Some analysts expect the average retail price to drop below $2 a gallon by the end of the year. Consumption can drop further in the winter as inclement weather keeps some drivers off the road.”

--Oil also declined on continued signs of over supply, the Journal reports.

“Light, sweet crude for November delivery settled down 2 cents at $46.64 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the global benchmark, fell 9 cents, or 0.2%, to $49.15 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.”

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