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POLITICO New York Energy, presented by Nuclear Matters: Cuomo vs. Entergy; state weighs consumer protections

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.

TENSIONS RISE BETWEEN CUOMO, ENTERGY ON FITZPATRICK PLANT — POLITICO New York’s Scott Waldman: As the fate of a nuclear plant in Oswego County hangs in the balance, tensions are rising between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the plant's operators, Entergy. On Monday, Cuomo released a statement to the State of Politics blog accusing Entergy of using its employees as pawns in an attempt to win financial incentives to keep the James A. FitzPatrick plant open. “I strongly caution Entergy not to use the threat of job losses as a means of prodding economic relief to help their bottom line,” Cuomo said in a statement. “This tactic has been attempted by others i‎n the past and has been unsuccessful. In this state, an entity called the Public Service Commission has oversight over services deemed to be in the statewide public's best interests.”

--“The same conditions forced Entergy to close its 604-megawatt Vermont Yankee nuclear plant last December and may lead to a similar fate soon for the company's 838-megawatt James Fitzpatrick reactor near Oswego, N.Y. Entergy said it will decide on the Fitzpatrick plant by the end of October. While all three plants are vulnerable because of their size — with one reactor each, their operating costs are higher than multi-reactor units — their biggest obstacle is the markets in which they operate.”

REV: FREE MARKET, SAFE MARKET — POLITICO New York’s David Giambusso: While state regulators, energy companies and utilities grapple with the myriad technical and financial complications of the state's "Reforming the Energy Vision," the Department of Public Service is looking to get a handle on another thorny aspect of the new energy market: making sure everyone behaves. In the new world envisioned by Gov. Andrew Cuomo's energy team, companies like SolarCity and Deepwater Wind will be as important energy producers as Entergy and NRG. But there will also be a constellation of smaller-scale renewable energy and technology companies that will fit into the REV structure, if it takes hold. The question facing state regulators as they embark on the REV is how to create the most welcoming marketplace possible and also protect consumers and responsible companies from bad actors. In July, the DPS issued a straw proposal, outlining basic rules of the road for the clean energy companies, or "distributed energy resources" it envisions entering the fray.


--Jill Anderson of NYPA fame has been elected to the board of directors of the Solar Electric Power Association.

--Op-ed: Save New York’s nukes: Edward Dodge writes of the virtues of nuclear power in an op-ed for the Press & Sun-Bulletin. “New York is engaging in an ambitious effort called REV (Renewing the Energy Vision) to update the state’s electricity grid to support renewable energy and microgrids. Unfortunately, this vision fails to see the importance of the state’s largest source of low-carbon electricity, nuclear power.”

--Schoharie County officials want an independent analysis of a New York Power Authority dam to see if it was damaged by a minor earthquake earlier this year.

--Members of a state nurse’s union are planning a ‘die-in’ on Wednesday to protest the movement of oil trains through New York.

--Star-Ledger edit board vs. enviros on fracking: The New Jersey newspaper’s editorial board asks environmentalists to get behind the practice. “What is going on here? Has the environmental movement lost its collective mind?” the editorial board wrote.

--The state Canal Corporation is submitting a new PCB-cleanup plan for the Champlain Canal.

--New Jersey college students designed a 100 percent solar house that “laughs” at hurricanes.

--TALK 1300’s James Franco asks why U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is silent on the Kinder Morgan pipeline.

** A Message from Nuclear Matters: Providing more than 62% of America’s carbon-free electricity, existing, state-of-the-art nuclear energy plants play a vital role in achieving our clean-energy and carbon-reduction goals. The industry also supports more than 475,000 jobs nationally and provides critical tax revenue locally for roads, schools and other public priorities. Learn more at **

GOOD WEDNESDAY 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:

UTILITIES CHANGING CUSTOMER CHARGES — The Wall Street Journal’s Rebecca Smith: “Electric utilities across the country are trying to change the way they charge customers, shifting more of their fixed costs to monthly fees, raising the hackles of consumer watchdogs and conservation advocates. Traditionally, charges for generating, transporting and maintaining the grid have been wrapped together into a monthly cost based on the amount of electricity consumers use each month. Some utilities also charge a basic service fee of $5 or so a month to cover the costs of reading meters and sending out bills. Now, many utility companies are seeking to increase their monthly fees by double-digit percentages, raising them to $25 or more a month regardless of the amount of power consumers use. The utilities argue that the fees should cover a bigger proportion of the fixed costs of the electric grid, including maintenance and repairs.”

SANDERS JOINS OTHER DEMS CALLING FOR EXXON PROBE — The Hill: “Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is asking the Justice Department to investigate whether ExxonMobil Corp.’s climate change research strategy broke federal law. The Democratic presidential candidate cited a recent investigation by InsideClimate News that found that Exxon, prior to its merger with Mobil, concluded from its research in the 1970s that climate change is a real threat but later spent millions of dollars sowing doubt about global warming. Sanders asked Attorney General Loretta Lynch to determine whether the oil giant’s actions were illegal. ‘These reports, if true, raise serious allegations of a misinformation campaign that may have caused public harm similar to the tobacco industry’s actions — conduct that led to federal racketeering convictions,’ Sanders wrote in the Tuesday letter.”

OBAMA COULD MOVE FAST NOW ON KEYSTONE — POLITICO’s Elana Schor and Andrew Restuccia: “If President Barack Obama wants to kill the Keystone XL pipeline at the best possible moment for his relationship with Canada's new Liberal government, both sides in the battle over the divisive oil project say he can't do it soon enough. Justin Trudeau's stunning defeat Monday of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper means that after seven years of speculation and delay, the continent is once again on Keystone watch, waiting for Obama to render a verdict that could come any day. A quick decision could avoid making Keystone's demise a political embarrassment for Trudeau — who, like Harper, supports the Alberta-to-Texas pipeline, but who has blamed the prime minister for turning it into a source of friction with the U.S. "If I were going to do it, I would do it in a matter of days," said one former U.S. official, speaking anonymously about Obama's most politically fraught environmental policy decision. Waiting for several weeks to turn down a permit for Keystone, the official added, would mean "it will happen on Trudeau's watch. [Obama] doesn't want to weaken Trudeau." [PRO]

--President talks climate change in with Trudeau: President Barack Obama on Tuesday discussed how to collaborate on climate change policy with Canada's incoming prime minister, Justin Trudeau, during a congratulatory call, but the two leaders apparently did not discuss the Keystone XL pipeline, according to a White House readout.

OIL MAN, FRACKER TURNED CLIMATE PHILANTHROPIST — Energy & Environment Publishing: “Richard Hertzberg worked on getting crude from the Canadian oil sands decades before the current debate about the Keystone XL pipeline. He headed the Department of Energy's fossil fuel extraction division in 1978 and pledged support for a Canada-to-U.S. pipeline. Around the same time, he signed a contract funding investigation into horizontal drilling, a precursor to the technique now called fracking. Hertzberg eventually launched his own company focused on unconventional oil development and utility-scale power generation. Now he's using part of the wealth he accumulated on a cause some might see as a sharp turn: climate change. He and his wife, Carol, have given $5 million to Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego for a center to research climate adaptation.”

GOOGLE WILL INVEST IN $1B AFRICA WIND PROJECT — The Wall Street Journal: “Google Inc. has agreed to buy a 12.5% stake in Africa’s largest wind project, Kenya’s Lake Turkana, from Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas Wind Systems A/S. The Danish company said on Tuesday that Google would purchase the stake for an undisclosed amount once the project was completed in 2017. The 310-megawatt Lake Turkana wind park, controlled by Lake Turkana Wind Power Ltd., is set to produce 1.4 terawatt hours of electricity a year, or about 15% of Kenya’s electricity needs, based on current generation capacity, Vestas said.”

JAPAN COMPENSATES FUKISHIMA WORKER WHO GOT CANCER AFTER NUCLEAR CLEANUP — The New York Times’ Jonathan Soble: “A man who developed leukemia after working on a cleanup crew at the ruined Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has been awarded workers’ compensation by the Japanese government, in what amounts to the first official acknowledgment that exposure to radiation at the disaster site may have caused cancer. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said on Tuesday that the man, whom it did not identify by name, worked between October 2012 and December 2013 installing protective covers over damaged reactor buildings at the site.”


--Oil stays somewhat flat: The Journal reports that markets are uncertain of long term supply.

“Light, sweet crude for November delivery settled down 34 cents, or 0.7%, at $45.55 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The November contract expired at settlement Tuesday. The more actively traded December contract rose a penny to $46.29 a barrel. Brent, the global benchmark, rose 10 cents, or 0.2%, to $48.71 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.”

--Natural gas picked up as reports of colder-than-expected weather boosted demand.

“Natural gas futures for November delivery settled up 3.4 cents, or 1.4%, to $2.476 a million British thermal units.”

** A Message from Nuclear Matters: Some of America’s existing nuclear energy plants face early closure due to current economic and policy conditions. Providing more than 62% of America’s carbon-free electricity, existing, state-of-the-art nuclear energy plants play a vital role in achieving our clean-energy and carbon-reduction goals. The industry also supports more than 475,000 jobs nationally and provides critical tax revenue locally for roads, schools and other public priorities.

If we want to keep America working, we need policymakers to support policies that will keep safe and reliable nuclear energy plants working for all of us. Voice your support for sensible policies that drive our national economy and join us **

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